How many times have the Columbus Blue Jackets lost a player only to see him be insanely successful on another team?
Sadly, too many to count without curling up in the fetal position.
But after the club nabbed 22-year-old forward Anthony Duclair in free agency, the tables may have turned for once; the Jackets may be finally getting a player of their own who struggled with a different team, but could breakout under its system.
Duclair had a quick and successful start to his NHL career. In just his second NHL season, the speedy winger from Quebec registered 20 goals and 24 assists with the Arizona Coyotes.
The sky was the limit for the kid as his chemistry with rookie teammate Max Domi seemed unstoppable. But just as fast as he earned the look of a future NHL all-star, Duclair began to stumble in his production – for a couple of years.
The following two seasons after his breakout stint, mainly playing with Arizona and a bit with the Chicago Blawkhawks, Duclair registered just 53 total points, only nine more than he had in his entire sophomore year. Spending some time moving up and down between the AHL and the pros clearly had a bit to do with this.
The trust from GMs in Duclair's consistency was dropping fast, and after the 2018 season wrapped up, he wasn't tendered a qualifying offer by the Blackhawks and became an unrestricted free agent. Two years removed from a successful season, Duclair wasn't a big selling point to a lot of top teams.
Then, along came Jarmo.
The Blue Jackets took a risk, about as small as one could, and gave Ducalir a one-year, $650,000 one-way offer. He accepted, and now the fun (hopefully) begins.
If Duclair could return to his second-year self, the Jackets will have officially struck gold, at least for this upcoming season. Adding a potential 20-plus goal scorer wielding a contract well under a million dollars is a dream for any club.
Who will the youngster skate with? Due to his inconsistent productivity over the past few seasons, there's no need to throw Duclair in with the big dogs. There's plenty of room on the fourth line with Sonny Milano and Brandon Dubinsky, which might fit quite well actually.
Milano, another speedy forward looking to prove himself, could pair well with Duclair as a duo who could provide an intense forecheck. This could give an 'older' Dubinsky opportunities for more goals, which was desperately lacking on his stat sheet last season.
Time will tell what he will bring, but it's obvious that Duclair is already looking for redemption to a reputation that was once on the rise. If he truly does begin to shine with the Jackets as he once did in Arizona, the scoring struggle in Columbus could be one step closer to being solved.
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