Getting to know Michael Duco



I have to admit that when I first saw that Sergei Shirokov had been trade, I was pretty cheesed. A good chunk of me thought that Shirokov never quite got a fair shake in Vancouver under Alain Vigneault, but, the other chunk of me knows that I’m a bit of a Russian homer and that my feelings on the other piece of the Roberto Luongo trade are more subjective than anything.

But when I saw that Mike Gillis traded for a guy who has zero points and 60 penalty minutes in 12 career NHL games,”What the hell, Mike,” was the thought that sprung to my head. I did the math, and, 12 times 5 allegedly works out to 60, so we’re looking at a player who potentially,

a) fights every game

b) boards some poor schmuck from behind every game

I’ve never seen Mike Duco play. I don’t think I’d ever heard of him. His profile picture on Twitter is of him getting ready to tee off on Toronto’s Mike Brown. I’m a pretty outspoken critic on the requirement for a goon on any organizational depth chart, so the move puzzled me, but, hey; at least this exemplary Twitterer wasn’t Cam Janssen.

Then it became apparent that Sergei Shirokov was going to Russia. The immediate reaction was to make a joke at Dale Tallon’s expense for trading for a player that wasn’t long for this continent. Tallon has made some pretty questionable moves as of late (‘as of late’ being a euphemism for ‘pretty much his whole career’) and this fits in. He got the negotiating rights to a player who might not play in the NHL again for a guy that scored 20 goals as a 23-year old in the AHL last season.

Stat-heads put a lot of numbers into proper context. Some drop stats on a “per 60-minute” basis and others at a “per 82-game basis”. Since we don’t have detailed time on ice data for the AHL, or anything in the ballpark of Behind The Net, we can’t really compare them there. The players don’t have enough NHL experience to make a true assessment of their advanced numbers, so we’re stuck with AHL counting stats for now.

Both Shirokov and Duco had 24 goals per 82 games for their respective AHL clubs last season, which is a pretty crazy thought. Could this undersized fighter (think Rudy on stilts) actually score goals at the same rate as Sergei Shirokov? Keep in mind Shirokov has the higher assist total, and playmaking is as vital an aspect to the game of hockey as pure goal-scoring talent is. Also, Shirokov shot a hair below his career shooting percentage at the AHL level (12.2% to 13.1% career) while Duco shot well above his (16.4% to 14.4% career). From a goal-scoring perspective, Shirokov is better in the now, though he is a year older.

But, the now hardly counts anymore. Shirokov is packing his bags to Russia. The Canucks picked up a 20-goal AHL scorer for nothing. He is either going to make some fans in Chicago really happy or maybe cut it with the big squad if he cuts down on that PIM total. Using Gabe Desjardins’ projections methods, Duco’s season would have netted him 11 goals per 82 games in the NHL.

Verdict: This guy may be a usable hockey player. His tweets are still pretty terrible, though.

  • Duco is a hard worker with grit and a lot of skill who will go through a wall for his team. I am a Canucks fan an happen to know Mike well from training with Twist Whitby the past 2 summers. He is exacty what the team needed to combat what Boston did to get in their heads in the finals.

  • Looking at Duco’s history again, he reminds of the ex-Flame Brandon Prust. A triple digit PIM guy who is willing to fight, but who can actually play the game as well. Prust had a really good season in NYR this year, playing some relatively tough minutes.

    If your “pest” can score 25+ points, play against other good players, penalty kill and still drop the gloves and then, you probably have something. It will be interesting to see if Duco can take that path (rather the well-worn road of the 5-minute per night goon).