With the Arizona Coyotes shopping Anthony Duclair, now’s the time for the struggling Vancouver Canucks to try and make a trade for the 22-year-old forward.
Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning has found a talent in trading for underperforming prospects and turning them into useful assets. This includes Markus Granlund, Sven Baertschi and more recently Derrick Pouliot.
Now, a divisional foe appears to be keen on moving on from a struggling but talented player. Last week, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reported in his 31 Thoughts column that the Arizona Coyotes are “working to find Anthony Duclair a fresh start.” The 22-year-old has just seven goals and six assists in 28 games this season.
Duclair has struggled ever since he tallied 20 goals and 44 points in 2015-16. Last year, he managed just five goals an 15 points in 58 games. The Coyotes are the worst team in the NHL, and nobody should be surprised if they start to sell off a handful of roster players.
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For Benning, he should see if a deal can be had with the Coyotes. Duclair’s value can’t be that high, given his rather short NHL career and all-around inconsistency. That being said, Duclair wouldn’t cost much, and could unleash all of his potential in Vancouver.
Duclair isn’t big (5-foot-11, 191 pounds), but has a similar style of play than Baertschi — who is the same height and one pound heavier. Both guys are left wingers that can use their bodies to drive the net and polish off pucks in front.
The Canucks have to start making some changes to their top-nine. There’s no guarantee the 37-year-old Sedin twins are back next season, and Thomas Vanek could very well be a trade deadline candidate. Who fills the voids?
This is unlikely to happen, but a potential Jake Virtanen swap for Duclair could work for both sides. The former has just five goals and four assists this season, and may also benefit from a change of scenery. The Canucks haven’t shown any interest in moving out the sixth-overall draft choice of 2014, though.
But if Duclair can be had for anything that doesn’t involve any of the team’s top prospects (obviously Elias Pettersson, Olli Juolevi, Kole Lind and Thatcher Demko aren’t available), key roster players or first-round picks, then the Canucks should try to see if a deal can happen.
Given Duclair’s inconsistent play, you have to think the Canucks would have to surrender no more than a second-round pick — if even that. We know how talented Duclair is — the 20-goal season shouldn’t be considered a fluke, but a sign of how talented the kid is.
And if the Coyotes have no problem shipping him to a division rival, then it’s up to Benning to make a deal work — as long as the price is right.
*Stats courtesy of Hockey Reference*