September 4, 2017, 12:44 PM ET [35 Comments]
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The Coyotes have signed Anthony Duclair to a one year contract.
The deal is a solid move for both the player and team as they could both use another year to determine whether or not / how much to invest in a long term deal.
Last season was a disaster for Duclair. He came to camp having lost his job on the first line because the Coyotes signed Radem Vbrata. Since he was coming off a rookie season in which he scored 12 goals and 31 points at even-strength, and 20 goals and 44 points overall, he didn't really deserve the demotion, and he didn't respond well to it.
He played in 23 less games last year, scored 30 less points and 15 less goals. He was, at one point, demoted to the AHL, where he scored once in 16 games.
After Duclair's first season in the NHL, he looked like a top-prospect. He appeared to be on his way to being a very good NHL player. He was mentioned with Domi and Strome as part of the top level of the Coyotes rebuild keepers.
But last year was the kind of season in which ruins your career, gets you traded and/or looking for some kind of fresh start.
Without context, Duclair no longer seems like a good bet to help the Coyotes turn the corner.
The context is this:
In 2015-16 Duclair played the most minutes with Hanzal, Domi ,Rieder and OEL. On average, their possession rating went up by six percentage points when they were on the ice with Duclair vs when they were on the ice without him.
Very clearly Anthony Duclair had a positive impact on the Coyotes best players.
in 2016-17 his most common linemates were Jamie McGinn, Goligoski, Murphy and OEL. With three of the four most common players being defenseman, it shows that he was juggled among a lot of different forward lines.
These sample sizes are a lot smaller, but two of those four players did better with Duclair than without him. For a better sample size, we can look to both Coyotes goalies and see that they had better CF% when Duclair was on the ice. Though he was not playing with Domi as much last year, it's worth pointing out that the Coyotes best winger still got better when he was on the ice with Duclair.
Conclusion: Duclair drives possession in the NHL. That alone makes him a valuable player. More valuable than a player like Reider who doesn't. I don't care about the 20 goal rookie season - it was driven by a really high shooting percentage. But what I do care about is that Duclair drives lines and makes them better.
Even last year, while he was having an off year, this skill still showed itself. He also produces a lot of shots-for, and his individual shots-for rate didn't fall last year.
His bad season was set off by a summer-time demotion that he didn't earn. Then, with worse line mates (who is going to do well playing mostly with Jamie McGinn? Nobody) and an expected regression in shooting percentage, he had an off year.
But the possession driving ability is real. His chemistry with Max Domi is real. Even last year when he wasn't scoring, his Corsi relative to his teammates was positive.
The Coyotes are smart to have re-signed him. His shooting percentage will be better than it was last year, and if they give him some decent linemates, he will excel.
In fact, since you know he makes anyone he plays with better, is gritty, and gets off lots of shots, Duclair is exactly the guy you're searching for to compliment your highly skilled players.
Domi makes pretty plays, but he can't play defense or drive possession. Duclair can at least drive possession, and that should make him decent at preventing shots too..
Last year was a bad year for him, but starting in the first game of training camp he lost his special teams job and was assigned to play with bad players.
Dave Tippett had no interest in Duclair and it showed in his deployment. Hardly have I ever seen such a case of coach induced sabotage.
This year, Duclair will rebound and next year the Coyotes will sign him to a nice long extension.
Stats from naturalstattrick.com