Anthony Duclair is far from lazy — he’s played in both the NHL and the QMJHL this season, and proved himself a game-changer for Team Canada en route to a gold medal at the World Junior Championships in between the two leagues.
He’s also produced consistently all season.
One goal and six assists in his first eighteen games as a member of the New York Rangers put him in a position where he looked like a legitimate NHL contender before even hitting twenty years old — and since his return to the major juniors, he’s notched twenty-seven points in only twenty-two games for the Quebec Remparts. His seven points in seven games at the World Juniors combined with the ten points his future Arizona Coyotes teammate Max Domi produced to show their Pacific Division franchise that they’ve got both skill and chemistry — so as he ages out of the major juniors and heads to the big league, Anthony Duclair should have little fear that he’ll get a good look from the Coyotes next fall.
Whether he’s too focused on looking ahead or all the positive accolades sent his way since the deadline have gotten to his head, though, Duclair has been suffering a bit of an attitude issue for the Remparts — so in their game against the Shawinigan Cataractes Tuesday night, it’s been announced by Quebec head coach Phillippe Boucher has made him a healthy scratch.
At nineteen — with eighteen games of NHL experience, nonetheless — it’s likely that any recurring attitude issue for Duclair would have been made public and likely addressed by this point. The more likely issue at hand is that Duclair is distracted; between the impending post-season in the major juniors and the blockbuster trade that just went down between New York and Arizona (sending Duclair to the Coyotes and Keith Yandle to the Rangers), few can blame the former third round pick for getting sidetracked. He’s been lighting it up since his return to Quebec, so any drop-off in effort could easily be attributed to an outlying factor.
It could also be a case of getting too big for his skates, though.
This past weekend, WEEI’s DJ Bean spoke with Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand about the attitude adjustment he’s made this season — and one of the things Marchand (who, like Duclair, was also a third-round pick who exceeded his draft year expectations) was quick to point out is how easy it is for an underdog to get caught up in positive praise.
Duclair could be suffering from the same issue Marchand did last season — with the constant praise of his ‘clutch’ playoff stats, Marchand stopped putting in the work to prove himself, and saw a drop-off in production. Duclair has had no shortage of praise over the last week — as a player who was a must-have in the Yandle trade (which sent a first round pick, a second round pick, and defenseman John Moore to Arizona with Duclair), the winger could be suffering in the wake of all the positive press he’s received.
Duclair made it clear when he was dealt to Arizona that he’s excited to get the chance to play in the NHL alongside Domi — so it’s unlikely that he’s suffering from a case of desert blues. For all fans know, he could just as easily be having an off week — every player has them, no matter how good they are. If a healthy scratch doesn’t improve his play, though, Arizona might be better served putting him in the AHL next season; nothing wakes a young player up quite like a demotion to the minors.