Anthony Duclair is Available — You Know the Drill


Photo Credit: Matt Kartozlan – USA TODAY Sports

The list of players the Canucks should be trying to trade for is a short one, and Anthony Duclair is somewhere near the top of it.

Duclair is 21-years-old, has 114 NHL games under his belt and produced around half a point per game therein. He’s the type of player rebuilding franchises build their teams around. The exact type that can help transition a down on their luck franchise from pretender to contender, in the right setting.

And according to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos, he’s on the trade block for the second time in his young career.

It’s not entirely surprising that the Arizona Coyotes are ready to start selling players for futures. It is, however, surprising that they’d part with a player working for them now with room to grow in the future. That’s definitely caught me off guard.

While most are quick to point out Duclair’s slow start (one goal, two assists in fifteen games) as reason for Arizona’s withdrawal, I tend to think there’s more than meets the eye here. Something about a team so heavily invested in analytics as the Coyotes purport to be parting ways with a 21-year-old based on a little bad luck just doesn’t pass the sniff test.

It could be something as simple as dollars and cents. Duclair is a pending restricted free agent in an era where bridge contracts are going the way of the dodo. If you’re young and can play, you’re getting paid.

That might be a problem in Arizona. They’re going into next off-season with about $25-million in cap space, though they’ve obviously an internal budget to adhere to as well.They have to either re-sign or replace Martin Hanzal, Radim Vrbata and Shane Doan. That’s going to take serious short and long-term capital. And while they’re doing that, they’re going to have to find a way to keep availabilities in the lineup for their bountiful prospect stable. It’s quite the balancing act.

I’m willing to bet the Coyotes aren’t giving up on Duclair, so much as they’re shifting pieces on the board to best set themselves up for their long-term vision. That theory goes a long way towards explaining why they’re still asking for a “pretty penny” to snag Duclair.

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That and the fact that Duclair is still a high-end player. Whether he’s scoring or not, Duclair contributes positively on a nightly basis and is laying the groundwork for an environment where sustainable offence is possible.

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Looking exclusively at this season, Duclair’s aggregate impact on his linemates ability to produce unblocked shot attempts is equal to roughly four shot attempts per sixty minutes. Better still, that pales in comparison to his impact on his teammates ability to generate goals and suppress opposition offence. Not bad for a player having a tough start, right?

The real question isn’t whether the Canucks should acquire Duclair. It’s whether they can. That’s where things get tricky.

Vancouver has a nice stable of prospects, but none that compare to Duclair concerning their offensive ceiling. I suppose you could always allow for the possibility of Brock Boeser as one. Maybe less so Jake Virtanen, too.

By that same token, maybe the Yotes aren’t ready to take on more prospects. Perhaps they look at the Canucks’ stable of young defencemen and see Ben Hutton as a fit within their organization. Whatever the case, they’re likely looking at a volume approach to make up ground.

That might be in the Canucks’ best interests anyway, though. More often than not, the team that secures the best player wins any given trade. Volume for quality rarely works out for the team trading away the better piece. That’s something you should know all too well as Canucks fans.

Regardless of the specifics, it’d cost the Canucks more than they’re likely comfortable to let loose. Whether by volume or quality, Duclair’s going to cost you. You know what? He’s worth it too.

  • Steampuck

    Interesting. Right age. Right size. Right type of player. But at what price? Former third-round pick? So never a blue chip prospect. I also note his usage has fluctuated this season:

    Without Domi: 39% CF
    With Domi: 53.2% CF

    I don’t know what to make of this, other than to worry that he’s bounced around the lineup this season (Domi remains his most frequent partner, but that’s less than half his 5v5 minutes). If he’s a perennial 20-goal scorer, then maybe you start with Hutton and see where things go. But that 39% CF without Domi makes me nervous. Could he turn into another David Booth or Emerson Etem right before he’s due a contract renewal?

      • natevk

        The Canucks’ lack of scoring from the wing has driven them to move Sutter to RW on the first line, opening up the hole in the C even further. Obviously we need a bona fide #1C before we begin to become competitive for any playoff scenario, but it’s not like our wings are set. That being said, if its a situation of either a young scoring winger or a potential #1C, I’d agree with you that the latter has to be the priority. I just don’t think there’s any way we’re getting our hands on that kind of player without a top-5 draft pick (which Benning better not be moving for a player like Duclair).

        • Hall for Larsson makes me think that the Canucks could net a top-5 1C like Sam Reinhart if they offered Tanev. If Benning thinks that Stecher or Tryamkin could take the 1RD slot (with Hutton, Juolevi and Gunbranson as the rest of the Top 4), that allows him to offer Tanev at prime value. I could see this trade being done at the entry draft (after the expansion draft).

    • SISMIM

      That CF% drop off is probably more to do with Jamie McGinn than anything else (as the WOWYs show Duclair’s 2016-17 minutes without Domi were mostly played with McGinn–who’s been a poor possession player, especially in recent years).

      Also, as far as the Domi/Duclair WOWYs go, their two season results probably provide a more informative sample size.

      Between 2015-17, Duclair with Domi: 51.7 CF%, Duclair without Domi: 47.0 CF%, Domi without Duclair: 44.4 CF%.

      So the drop off is far less precipitous when you looks at the larger sample. And the numbers might even suggest that Domi is hurt more by playing without Duclair than Duclair is without Domi (although you’d probably need to look closer at their individual usage to really draw conclusions).

  • natevk

    If Benning is going for a “20-goal scorer”, this is the kind of player I can support: young, with upside. It’s pretty hard to judge the market for him — the Yandle trade had a lot of pieces so it’s tricky to see what the Coyotes thought he was worth originally. I heard something about the Coyotes wanting to move Stone too before he becomes a UFA. Maybe there’d be something there for both players?

  • natevk

    Would a 2nd round pick get it done? I’m not saying the Canucks should be aiming to have fewer picks, but looking at (somewhat) comparable players who have been traded in the last year — Beau Bennett/Nail Yakupov/Teuvo Teravainen — a second round pick doesn’t seem unrealistic. I bet Arizona is hoping to get a 1st though and will likely hold out for that.

    I don’t really see how Hutton would fit into Arizona’s plans, what with OEL, Chychrun and Goligoski (locked in w/NMC til 2020-21) on the left side, and Chris Tanev not coming much cheaper than Stone on the right side. That’s why my guess is they’re looking for (a) draft pick(s).

  • Big D, little d

    Whenever I hear of a player who would be available “at the right price”, I think of someone who puts their house up for sale at $100,000 (OK, $500,000 in Vancouver) over market price. Sure, they’re probably not going to sell it but all you need is one person who REALLY wants that house.

    The Coyotes are aware that the team that secures the best player wins any given trade, and I’m pretty sure they’re not going into this looking to lose the trade. In order to get Duclair you’re going to have to give up something better than Duclair showed last year. The Canucks can’t afford that.

    Benning should call and ask, that’s just due diligence. But I can’t see it going any farther than that.


  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    Duclair, despite a slow start, will not come cheap. Sbisa isn’t going to do it. And I am skeptical that they are looking for defencemen in return, they’re a team with scoring woes just like us, so we wouldn’t be dealing from a position of depth here. I could see trading Virtanen for him, though Duclair is probably more valuable at this point having posted 20 goals last year while Virtanen’s development looks a little stalled.

  • JuiceBox

    Discussions around Duclair will likely start with Brock Boeser. Giving up Boeser would be tough to take for the fan base but one could argue that Duclair IS NOW what Boeser WILL HOPE TO BE in 3 years and that now is the best time to sell Boeser while his ‘future potential stock’ is at it’s highest. Swapping the unknown commodity in Boeser for the known commodity in Ducliar is a reasonable decision that speeds up the re-build by at least 2 years (likely 3) and lands the Canucks a top-6 winger to play now.

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      Nope, Boeser projects considerably higher at this point. Rebuilding teams should not be swapping unknown, higher value commodities for known lower ceiling commodities, in fact the opposite is the case.

  • DSP

    I see a great upside to him. Young, strong, has a good shot. However it would depend on the price. If a 2nd can get it done it’s worth the risk for what most 2nds turn out to be. If we can get it done for a mid aged player then it may also be a good move. How ever I wouldn’t trade a current prospect for him. Though he would be nice to aquire.

  • TD

    Do not trade anything significant for Duclair. For those that write about what Duclair currently is, remember that he has 3 point this year. He has had one good year. He does not have a long track record of success. He also was a third round pick meaning he had problems with his game causing his draft position. This would also be his second trade since being drafted. That should cause pause to consider why he has been deemed expendable.

    I laugh at the analytics being discussed (or completely ignored by JD the article. The numbers being thrown out in the comments look a lot like Gudbranson’s numbers. JD always focused on his crappy corsi number with Mitchell instead of his good numbers with Campbell.

    I’m fine with trading for Duclair, but it should be relatively cheap because there appear to be several red flags around him.

    • I am Ted

      Well said. I also agree it would be idiotic to give up a significant asset for Duclair aka Dookie. I’d be happy to see JB deal a 2nd but then I would also want to see who would be exposed at the expansion draft and who we could protect etc.

  • Jabs

    Duclair is an interesting piece but would be hard pressed to agree with the statement that “He’s the type of player rebuilding franchises build their teams around”.

    This suggest he is a potential franchise player which is certainly not true.

  • Red Moon Rising

    When it comes to trades (or a waiver-wire addition who comes in and kills it) I think people are tending to overlook that the expansion draft throws a monkey wrench into the gears. If Duclair (a player I certainly wouldn’t mind wearing the blue and green) comes in, who goes out? Since Daniel, Eriksson, and Baertschi are all being protected as our top 3 LW even if,say, Hansen was traded freeing up a spot on the protected list you are pretty much making the decision that one of those guys isn’t in your top 9 plans next season (or even worse Virtanen or Boesser are already looking at fourth line duty 10 months before the fact) and then somebody is already slotted to play on their off-wing. You can have the world’s best square peg, it still ain’t going in that round hole.

    Any trade this season is going to have to be for a player exempt from the draft or involve one of the 7 the team plans on protecting at the time or the math won’t add up.

    So if Benning is going to pull the trigger on a deal at some point this season it will have to be something along the lines of Duchene for a bag of peanuts and yesterday’s newspaper or it just won’t make sense.

  • wojohowitz

    Is Duclair a Turris/Tippett problem or is it a Duclair/Yotes problem or is it a Duclair/NHL problem or is it a Duclair/hockey problem or is it a Duclair existential problem?

  • Burnabybob

    I’m not convinced the Canucks should pursue him, unless the price is reasonable. I MIGHT consider a straight-up exchange for Hutton, considering the Canucks have a decent pool of young defensemen, but wouldn’t give more than him. The bottom line is that the Canucks aren’t likely to be competitive for a while, so they should be able to find a player like Duclair through the draft in the next few years.

  • Osmosis_jones

    Did someone say a 2nd round pick is fair for Duclair??? Give me a break. Every team in the league would offer that in a heartbeat if that’s all it took. I say a 1st round non-lottery pick for starters plus a decent prospect.

    Big, heavy winger could turn into a Boone Jenner, Wayne Simmonds at best and Patrick Maroon at worst. He’s worth more than a 2nd pick at this point in his career.

    • Although other black players (e.g. Simmonds, Greer, Brashear, Etem, Smith-Pelley) were built like tanks, Duclair is not a big player. Jenner is 6′ 2″, 210 lbs. Duclair is 5′ 11″, 185 lbs. Duclair has a reputation for being a speedy scorer, not a power forward.