GLENDALE – Newcomer Anthony Duclair started the season with a four-game point streak, including a hat trick against Anaheim, quickly showing his coaches, teammates and Coyotes fans he was ready to be a full-time NHL player.
The 20-year-old rookie continued to produce throughout the entire campaign and at season’s end ranked within the team’s top five for goals (third with 20), assists (fifth with 24) and points (fourth with 44) while playing in all but one game.
“You don’t want to stop playing hockey in the month of April,” Duclair said. “It’s been a grueling, long season, but at the same time it’s been pretty fun. For myself, it’s a dream come true to play in the NHL and it’s a privilege. So I’m happy to play in this league and looking forward to next year already.”
Several rookies turned heads this season around the NHL, and Duclair held his own among them, including his teammate and good friend Max Domi. Duclair finished fifth among the League’s freshmen in goals, tied for seventh in assists, and seventh in points.
Head Coach Dave Tippett was impressed by Duclair’s scoring touch, and he also admired the way he, and the team’s other rookies, continued to contribute as the season unfolded.
“He’s a good, young player,” Tippett said. “He’s opportunistic. He’s a goal scorer.”
Only one other Coyotes rookie has scored more goals in a season than Duclair since the team moved to Arizona in 1996. That was Peter Mueller, who netted 22 in 2007-08.
“I didn’t expect to score 20 goals this year, but at the same time just having the support from the coaches and the teammates has been awesome,” Duclair said. “I’m pretty happy to have that accomplishment and share it with these guys. It’s been unbelievable.”
Duclair produced two other impressive statistics in his first full NHL season: 1. He led the Coyotes in plus/minus rating at plus-12, and 2. His shooting percentage of 19.0 percent was tops among the regulars.
“It’s been a fun year,” Duclair said. “You look at where this organization has been (last season), and I think there’s been a lot of growth. It’s good to see but not making playoffs is pretty frustrating. I’m looking forward to the future, and next year. Obviously, we want to set that goal to make the playoffs next year.”
He added, “Staying consistent is the key to making the playoffs… We just have to learn from that and take that experience on to next year.”
Duclair plans to head home to Montreal for the off-season to take a rest and then start preparing for next season. He said he’d like to add some weight to his 185-pound frame. He also said he plans to work on the coaching staff’s suggestions for him, including better positioning and better play without the puck.
“When he gets the puck, he can do things,” Tippett said. “When he doesn’t have it, he’s just waiting for it to come back to him again. There’s a part in there where you’ve actually got to do something.”
Duclair said he understands Tippett’s point and is committed to improving that important part of his game.
“Whatever they say I’ll listen,” Duclair said. “I want to be in this league for as long as possible. They know what they’re talking about and I’m going to do whatever I can to help this group make the playoffs.”