Instead of re-acquiring veteran assets, the New York Rangers should bring back forward Anthony Duclair as a low-risk-high-reward.
With former New York Rangers third-round draft pick (2013) Anthony Duclair not receiving a qualifying offer from the Chicago Blackhawks as a restricted free agent, the Broadway Blueshirts should consider re-acquiring the forward as the team enters its first rebuild phase in over a decade.
The now 22-year-old is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and is still raw with upside to offer.
In parts of three seasons with the Rangers, Arizona Coyotes and Blackhawks, the 5-foot-11 winger has recorded 89 career points (37 goals, 52 assists) in 213 games played. In Duclair’s second season, he found the back of the net 20 times and collected 24 helpers for a commendable 44 point sophomore campaign.
Anthony Duclair scores a filthy Peter Forsberg style goal 😱https://t.co/0M0O9zfqcB
— Goalie Ways (@GoalieWays) January 10, 2016
While his point production has taken a dive, reuniting with the team that drafted Duclair isn’t the worst idea for a much different Rangers lineup from 2014-15 when New York was a Cup contender.
Duclair was traded to the Arizona Coyotes in March of 2015, along with defenseman John Moore, a 2016 second-round pick and a conditional 2016 first-round selection in exchange for defensemen Keith Yandle, Chris Summers and a 2016 fourth-round pick.
Yandle was worth trading for at the time and re-acquiring a youthful talent such as Duclair at this point could end up being labeled as bittersweet as early as next season at Madison Square Garden.
Considering that newly appointed head coach Dave Quinn’s specialty is developing and communicating with young players, a 22-year-old Duclair who needs to refine his game would be a bargain worth New York’s time and money spent on a short-term deal.
A change of scenery is something that can do wonders for professional athletes, especially those with a chip on their shoulder looking to prove that they can perform better than in recent memory. A new culture and opportunity on Broadway could spark something in a youngster that was once let go by the team that drafted him 80th overall back at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
The left-handed shooter was on salary for $1.2 million last season and he would probably take less money at this rate to return to a Rangers team, where opportunity is fairly wide open to blossom as an offensive force.
Keep in mind that it was impressive Duclair cracked the Rangers lineup as a third-round selection one year after being drafted, and he was a highly sought out prospect on the trade market at such a young age.
Nasty shootout goal from Anthony Duclair. Undresses Thomas Greiss. pic.twitter.com/oB2ymhyDt9
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) January 8, 2017
By signing Duclair to a two-year deal, the Rangers could score with lightning in a bottle with a former and younger skater. This might be a better route to take than re-signing wingers such as veterans Michael Grabner or Rick Nash.
At this point in time, even if New York is intrigued by the idea of bringing back a skater such as Nash to “mentor” the future stars of the Broadway Blueshirts, the reality is that acquiring more cost friendly and younger skaters could pay more dividends for New York with a strategy centering around potential low-risk-high-reward contracts.
Yes, the New York Rangers could also eventually flip those veteran assets they could potentially re-acquire come July 1 in UFA, but that could also stall part of the rebuilding process New York is supposedly committed to moving forward.