Expect DuClair to immediately ingratiate himself to the Florida Panthers.
Anthony DuClair is one of the more interesting players in the NHL.
A former third-round pick by the New York Rangers in 2013, DuClair initially made his NHL debut in 2014 and has since gone on to play for five professional clubs since then – the Rangers, Arizona Coyotes, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Columbus Blue Jackets, and most recently, the Ottawa Senators. Though he’s yet to play a full 82 game season with any one team, coming one game shy in his sophomore season, when on the ice, DuClair has proven himself a solid left-handed shooter with two-way upside.
And off the ice, DuClair is just as interesting.
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A founding member of the NHL’s Hockey Diversity Alliance alongside players like Evander Kane, Mathew Dumba, and Wayne Simmonds, DuClair opted to represent himself in free agency this year. Could that lack of a dedicated representative be partially responsible for why it took him months to land with a team? Eh, probably so, but with $1.7 million in his pocket and no state taxes in his future, it’s pretty safe to say all’s well that ends well.
Make no mistake, this move is certainly rare, and a feel-good story for player empowerment, but the Florida Panthers wouldn’t be handing out $1.7 million just for the PR. No, they clearly signed DuClair because of his upside on the ice and ability to score at a high clip when he’s locked in.
With Evgenii Dadonov gone to (ironically enough) DuClair’s former team, the Ottawa Senators, and Mike Hoffman all but gone to a contender in free agency (maybe to the Boston Bruins?), the Panthers need someone to come in and add a bit of offensive firepower on the left-wing. DuClair can do that, as evidenced by his 23 goals in 66 games last season with the Senators. At 25-years-old, DuClair is just scratching the surface of his offensive talents and could ultimately turn into a pretty solid middle-six forward for a team looking to establish a winning culture and a firm identity.
But don’t just take my word for it; let’s see what Panthers’ general manager Bill Zito had to say on the subject in the team’s official announcement of the signing,
“Anthony is a dynamic and highly skilled player who is capable of being a dependable offensive contributor for our team” said Zito. “He possesses tremendous speed and goal scoring ability and earned an opportunity to be named an NHL All-Star last season. We’re excited to welcome Anthony and look forward to what he can add to our team.”
The keyword of that statement? Dynamic. If there is one thing the Panthers need now more than ever, it is dynamic upside to supercharge their offense and give fans a reason to tune in night-in and night-out.
Whether the Florida Panthers are able to weather their offseason losses under head coach Joel Quenneville and take a positive step forward, or they once again find themselves on the outside looking in when the playoffs roll around remains to be seen. All Bill Zito and company can do is identify and acquire young players they believe fit their scheme both now and moving forward. Anthony DuClair fits that bill to a T and should quickly ingratiate himself to Sunrise hockey fans in a hurry.