'The Duke' hasn't been performing since his great first year with the Coyotes, so the time was right. Can the Blackhawks rekindle his once-promising career?
Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka was cryptic – but not too cryptic – in addressing his trading of speedy right winger Anthony Duclair to the Chicago Blackhawks: “It’s gone back for a few years now, where the team wasn’t particularly happy with the player and the player wasn’t particularly happy with the team,” he said. “You see Anthony play and his speed and skill is obvious to everyone. There are also some things that I think should stay behind closed doors.”
So yeah, this was probably a deal the Coyotes had to make. Chicago, which is having a tough go in the Central Division this season, acquired Duclair and defenseman Adam Clendening from the Coyotes in exchange for forwards Richard Panik and Laurent Dauphin. Both Clendening and Dauphin will be returning to organizations they have played for in the past.
Duclair is the biggest name in this deal because at one point, he looked like a serious offensive threat in the making. New York Rangers fans howled when the Blueshirts sacrificed him in the Keith Yandle trade and ‘The Duke’ confirmed those fears when he put up 20 goals the next season for Arizona. But Duclair hasn’t scored 20 goals total in the two seasons that followed and he even spent 16 games in the AHL with Tucson last year. Perhaps most discouraging was that he didn’t even light up the minor circuit; Duclair was a minus-11 with just eight points for the Roadrunners.
So the writing has been on the wall for a while. The talented winger doesn’t have a lot of size and he doesn’t have any defensive acumen. The situation in Arizona wasn’t getting better and a fresh start makes sense.
In Chicago, Duclair will be surrounded by Stanley Cup-winning veterans who can hopefully help him get on the right path. Keep in mind, the kid’s only 22 years old. It’s enticing to think of someone with his wheels and sweet hands playing on a line with Patrick Kane, for instance, though Duclair will have to earn that spot. If he can’t, you’d hope that he’ll do everything in his power to round out his game and contribute on another lower line. That’s the X-factor.
In Panik, Arizona gets a player with some size and skill whose career really took off last season in Chicago. Playing largely with Jonathan Toews, Panik notched 22 goals to obliterate his previous NHL high, though he has come back down to Earth a bit this season as the Hawks in general have struggled. It would be optimistic to say that Panik brings a winning Chicago pedigree to Arizona, but the 26-year-old didn’t really have much team success during his time; he arrived after the most recent Cup run and Chicago has been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs the past two seasons.
What’s most interesting about this deal is that Arizona, the franchise usually associated with money issues, actually takes on salary in the deal. Panik brings a $2.8 million cap hit with him and the Slovakian national has one more year on his contract after this season. Duclair, on the other hand, is a restricted free agent this summer and carries a cap hit of $1.2 million. Chicago was tight up against the cap, so this deal helps GM Stan Bowman, if only ever so slightly.