Playing for your fourth NHL team at age 23 is generally not the best reflection.
"I'm not too proud about it," Anthony Duclair said.
Drafted by the New York Rangers in the third round of the 2013 NHL Draft, Duclair came with plenty of buzz – a flash-and-dash game with speed and skill that could electrify when he's on. But it didn't work out for Duclair in New York, and he was traded to Arizona in the Keith Yandle deal.
After two more stops, one breakout season and a tough last 12 months, Duclair needed something different. When the Blackhawks declined to give him a qualifying offer, it was a wake-up call.
When the Blue Jackets showed interest in Duclair, they weren't alone. Duclair took some time to decide on his next destination because of how important of a decision it would turn out to be; conversations with Jarmo Kekalainen and, in particular, John Tortorella, convinced Duclair that signing in Columbus was the best course of action.
"He demands a lot," Duclair said of Tortorella. "At the same time, just looking at this team, they're very well-coached...they play well as a team. That's one of the main reasons I chose to come here. (Playing for Tortorella) is why I waited."
Duclair didn't perform a detailed analysis of the depth chart, either.
"I looked at the roster maybe once, to be honest with you," he said. "I just wanted to come here and do my best, work hard every day and try to improve."
He signed a one-year, $650,000 deal with the Blue Jackets on July 5, excited to join a young team with a recent run of modest success and that seems to be on an upward trend. Plus, the environment created by Tortorella and the team's leadership group is something Duclair feels he needs right now.
"I think it's a good fit for me. It's a young team with playoff experience, which is pretty rare sometimes," Duclair said. "They've got a lot of leadership, a lot of good veterans, and I just think I can mesh well here with the guys.
"Coming here and playing with these guys, everyone's going to push each other to be better. I think that's what I need. I know what I can do and know what I'm capable of, and I've proven it in the past. It's just a question of doing it again."
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