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Bargain Bin Free Agency 2018: Anthony Duclair

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Oilers are up against the cap. Can they squeeze one more value priced free agent in?

Ottawa Senators v Chicago Blackhawks
Two seasons removed from a 40 point season, should the Oilers take a chance on Duc?
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The big (?) fireworks of July 1st has come and gone. The Oilers secured a couple of important pices in Kyle Brodziak and Tobias Rieder. They took a chance on a defenceman with 70 career NHL games in Kevin Gravel. It was a fairly successful day for Peter Chiarelli, and it’s worth noting that he did it on a shoestring budget.

Three days later, there are still some noticeable holes on the roster. The most glaringly obvious is how the right side is a rogue’s gallery at the moment. If the plan going forward is to keep Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the top line left wing and to put Milan Lucic back on the third, then a real opportunity at 2LW opens up. Tobias Rieder, maybe?

There are a few UFAs in the bargain bin that could be snapped up on a bargain deal. I haven’t heard Drew Stafford’s name recently, but he’s there. Chris Stewart is right next to him. And then, there’s Anthony Duclair.

ANTHONY DUCLAIR (DOB: 26 AUG 95)

2017-18: 56 GP w/ ARZ, CHI 11-12-23

Duclair has spent the majority of his time with the Coyotes franchise, though he was drafted by the Rangers in the third round of the 2013 draft. A 5’11” left shot wing, Duclair had an 18-game stint with the Rangers in 2014-15 where he tallied 7 points (1-6-7). He’d get dealt to the Coyotes in March of 2015. Duclair was a regular for the Coyotes in 2015-16 when he scored 44 points. His production slipped to just fourteen points in 2016-17, he spent some time in Tucson (AHL), and he was moved midseason to Chicago this last year. Duclair finished with just 23 points on the season, and did not receive a qualifying offer from the Blackhawks.

If you take a look at Duclair’s numbers, the first thing that pops out at you is the gaudy 44 point total he amassed in 2015-16. Go to the numbers and you’ll see that he scored twenty goals that year. I don’t even need to take a look at all of the Oilers right wingers last year to tell you that other than Leon Draisaitl who should be a full time 2C, 20 goals would easily have led the right side.

The catch? Duclair’s shooting percentage was a sizzling 19% that season. If you’re a fan of the Edmonton Oilers, you’ll recall a time in recent memory when a talented wing shot 18.9% and finished with 76 points. Long story short, goals are fun, but when they come at that rate, it’s impossible to depend on that sort of production over the long haul.

So, why should the Oilers take a chance on a player with one decent season on a heater and a couple of 20 point years?

  • When on ice, play tends to go the right way. He looked good in limited time with Jonathan Toews last season and Brandon Saad. In Arizona, he drove the bus with Max Domi and Christia Dvorak. Arrows up.
  • He’s going to be just 23 at the end of August, which is still within ‘prospect’ territory.
  • He shouldn’t cost a bundle to sign for a year. That’s good, because the Oilers don’t have much to work with.
  • My only concern? Putting him on the third line will not yield results in the goal column. A duo of Milan Lucic and Ryan Strome probably aren’t going to put up a bunch of goals, putting Anthony Duclair will likely yield similar results.

The Oilers could do a lot worse than signing Anthony Duclair for a year. For the right price (and a little luck), it’s worth a bet.