After an already busy offseason, the Detroit Red Wings have made several upgrades throughout their roster, but it seems they could still be open to making another significant move before training camp opens in the next month or so.
While this past season proved to be extremely disappointing on multiple fronts and was unwatchable at times, it’s clear the front office is doing everything they can to prevent those failures from continuing into the 2020-21 campaign. Adding players like Bobby Ryan, Vladislav Namestnikov, Marc Staal, Jon Merrill, and Troy Stecher, the message from management is clear, the overall product on the ice must take a positive step forward next season.
Looking at Detroit’s roster as a whole, there’s a very good chance they’ll be able to accomplish that feat, but it seems they could also have a chance to improve even further by adding another talented skater to the team. Though the free-agent market has been thinned out over the last several weeks, there are still a few players available who could make an impact, including forward Anthony Duclair.
Despite developing into a highly touted prospect with the New York Rangers, Duclair has bounced around from five different teams (Rangers, Coyotes, Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, and Senators) over the last six seasons due to his underperforming results in the NHL and his troubling work ethic on and off the ice. Searching for his newest home, the 5-foot-11 winger has been forced to wait for his next contract after he reportedly turned down a two-year, $6 million offer from Ottawa earlier this offseason.
Since the market opened last month, things have been relatively quiet for the former third-round selection and it seems he wasn’t too happy with his current representation, as he fired his agent before free agency opened and has decided to represent himself ever since. As a result, the 25-year old has needed to advocate for himself to any team that’s listened to him, which hasn’t been an ideal situation since he remains unsigned.
Considering the Red Wings lacked scoring depth beyond their top line in 2019-20, adding a former 20-goal scorer to their team could definitely help them resolve that issue and it appears they might be able to sign him to a fairly inexpensive contract as well. While it’d likely require handing him a two-year deal, as he’s looking for some security, acquiring the left-winger for $2 million per season could prove to be extremely valuable if he’s able to at least replicate his results from this past season.
Through 66 games with the Senators, Duclair produced career-highs in average ice time (16:16 minutes), goals (23), short-handed goals (two), goals per game (0.35), points per game (0.61), shots on net (184), hits (53), blocks (39), and also finished with the second-highest xGF (35.8) of his career.
Based on these metrics, the Quebec native seems to be a solid fit for Detroit’s second line and could skate alongside Namestnikov and Ryan, with teammate Robby Fabbri moving down to the club’s third line. As for where he’d fit on special teams, the left-hander actually struggled to produce on the power play in 2019-20 (five power-play goals), which means he’d likely have to compete for a spot on the second power-play unit.
Despite his narrative of being known as a one-dimensional player, there’s no question Duclair would improve the Red Wings offensively and could help them finish considerably higher in the standings next season. While he probably won’t help them take a step forward defensively, it’s possible the one-time All-Star could serve as a leader to some of the club’s top young skaters, which could prove to be very crucial if he ends up playing alongside someone like Filip Zadina at some point.
With training camp likely still at least a month away, there’s a strong chance Duclair will probably be forced to wait a little bit longer before discovering where he’ll be playing next season. Even though his current options seem to be limited to just a handful of teams, suiting up in red and white could potentially emerge as a top destination in the near future, and landing him would be an impressive way for the front office to cap off this hectic offseason.