GLENDALE – Coyotes fans already have seen some of the up-and-coming players the team acquired before the NHL Trade Deadline on March 2 compete on home ice, but the key acquisition the club made is still playing junior hockey.
"Anthony Duclair is a terrific, elite, young scoring winger," General Manager Don Maloney said of the prospect the Coyotes landed in the transaction that sent defenseman Keith Yandle to the New York Rangers. "When he became a part of this deal we got excited... You don't find this type of ability on this young of a player very often. He'll have every opportunity to make this team next season."
The Rangers selected Duclair – whose nickname is "The Duke" – with the 80th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. He played 18 games for them this season and notched one goal and six assists before heading to the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship and then back to the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for a fourth season.
It was at the World Junior tournament where Duclair and Max Domi – another key prospect in Arizona’s system – clicked together on a line and led Canada to the gold medal. Duclair notched four goals and eight points in seven games for Canada; Domi had five goals and 10 points.
"They were the best line on the best team in that tournament," Maloney said.
Duclair, 19, enjoyed his seven-week stint playing for the Rangers earlier this season. He said being around the defending Eastern Conference champions served him well.
"I try to use my speed in every aspect of the game," Duclair said. "I’m more of an offensive guy but playing those 18 games in the NHL helped my defensive game and I’ve gotten much better at it. I’ve got to be a good two-way player because that’s what I have to do to play at the next level. I learned a lot from a lot of great veteran players with the Rangers and I can’t thank them enough."
Aside from Domi, Duclair knows a few other Coyotes prospects including forwards Laurent Dauphin and Yan Pavel Laplante and goalie Louis Domingue, a teammate with the Remparts in 2011-12.
"He's really, really skilled," Domingue said of Duclair. "He's going to be a good player in the NHL."
|Anthony Duclair. Photo by Getyy Images. |
Duclair was informed of the trade to the Coyotes during the second intermission of a game he and the Remparts were playing on March 1. After the shock wore off, Duclair said he embraced the change.
"I had a talk with Don Maloney right after the trade and he's really excited to have me," Duclair said. "I think this is a good move for my future."
Before getting too far ahead of himself, Duclair is focusing on finishing his junior career. The playoffs are approaching and the Remparts are hosting this year’s Mastercard Memorial Cup.
Coyotes fans will be watching him from afar, and looking forward to seeing him at training camp in September alongside Domi, Brendan Perlini, Henrik Samuelsson, Christian Dvorak and other prospects the team hopes can contribute at the NHL level sooner rather than later.
Maloney, of course, will be watching "The Duke" closely, too.
"He’s a guy who’s ready to play for us now," Maloney said. "He’s played in the League and he’s starred in a major tournament. We’re excited to watch him take the next step."