The desert seemed like the perfect place for forward Anthony Duclair.
He was supposed to be a roadrunner on skates, a key component on a young Arizona Coyotes team looking to resurrect itself from the ashes of losing seasons.
But the 22-year-old fourth-season player didn’t prove to be a Phoenix rising for Arizona and the Coyotes dealt him Wednesday to the Chicago Blackhawks along with defenseman Adam Clendening for forwards Richard Panik and Laurent Dauphin.
Duclair, a New York Rangers 2013 third-round draft pick, was unhappy in Arizona and requested a trade after being a healthy scratch in 10 of the team’s 33 games this season and playing only 13:27 minutes per game when he was in the lineup.
“It wasn’t a decision I made overnight,” Duclair told reporters Friday before skating in the Blackhawks’ 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets in Chicago. “I didn’t have the leash that others had…Not going to say it was unfair to me, but talking to the older guys on the team, they felt I deserved better. And I thought so, too.”
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) January 12, 2018
The Coyotes were only too happy to comply with Duclair’s request to move on.
“It’s gone back for a few years now where the team wasn’t happy with the player and the player wasn’t particularly happy with the team and we worked through some things, tried a lot of different approaches in a lot of different ways,” Arizona General ManagerJohn Chayka told reporters. “I hope he has success in Chicago and does good things.”
The trade comes two seasons after Duclair tallied 20 goals and 24 assists in 81 games for the Coyotes. His production dipped in the 2016-17 season to 5 goals and 10 assists in 58 games and he spent 16 games with the Tucson Roadrunners, the Coyotes’ AmericanHockey League affiliate.
Duclair had 9 goals and 6 assists in 33 games for Arizona this season. The player nicknamed “The Duke” said he was “stoked” about a fresh start in Chicago, a start that found him skating laps in Friday’s morning skate after he was the last player to join a team huddle.
Anthony Duclair is last to the team huddle after the morning skate and has to do a lap. The newcomers always learn this way. pic.twitter.com/OcsxroAGu0
— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) January 12, 2018
“We had a tough situation in Arizona,” Duclair told reporters. “(I’m) ready to be in a playoff atmosphere. Every game counts.”
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