Among all of the disappointing developments of last year, Anthony Duclair was probably the biggest for the Arizona Coyotes.
The “goal-scorer” of the future fell off the map, was sent down to the minors, and failed to tally double-digits goals.
The only reason it’s not an “F” is because Duclair never made a scene in the media, never complained about being sent down, and seemed to genuinely try and fix his issues.
But, why were there issues in the first place? How did a guy who finished 10th in one of the deepest Calder Trophy races ever find himself struggling to score and in the AHL as an encore?
Statistically, the answer isn’t obvious. In 2015-16, Duclair recorded 20 goals and 24 assists for 44 points. He was a +12, and had a 19 percent shooting percentage. Both his Corsi and Fenwick ratings were around 49 percent, meaning the Coyotes basically split possession with their opponents when he was on the ice.
Fast-forward to 2016-17: 5 goals, 10 assists, a -7, 6.6 percent shooting, 46 percent Corsi/Fenwick.
The biggest disparity is the shooting percentage. Had Duclair continued to score on 19 percent of his shots on goal, he would have scored 14 goals in his 58 NHL games last year (That pace would have been good for 20 goals over 82 games). Not bad.
But he didn’t. Duclair went from being one of the best marksmen in the league — a 19 percent shot percentage would have ranked 5th in the NHL last year — to one of the league’s worst, not even clearing the NHL average of 9 percent.
With such a plummet in that category, pinpointing a cause isn’t abundantly clear. Duclair played most of his games with the same line mates (Max Domi and Martin Hanzal), and his possession numbers stayed relatively similar, suffering a slight dip likely down to the departure of Martin Hanzal at the trade deadline.
Is it a fluke?
All things equal, Duclair was in the same situations last year as in his rookie campaign. In fact, his shot attempts per game actually marginally increased. Everything was identical until the 21-year-old actually let a shot go.
Plain and simple, Duclair could not get shots by NHL goalies. Yes, teams were more aware of his presence last year, and goalies were wise to his shooting tendencies, but those don’t explain a 65 percent decrease in shots that go in the net.
They also don’t excuse his dreadful power play output. In 15-16, Duclair scored 8 man-advantage goals. Last year: ZERO. Not one. Even if teams were doing a good job keeping him out of dangerous goal-scoring areas at even strength, he would have found the space with his team a man up.
For some reason, Duclair just could not find a way to beat goalies with his shot. Even of the goals he did score, several of them were from tapping in a puck during a goal-front scramble, not exactly the mark of a sniper.
Maybe it was a fluke of a season and Duclair will get his shooting percentage back up to league-leading standards next year. Maybe he will come back and be a 20+ goal scorer again to pair with Domi on Arizona’s top line.
Or, maybe it was his rookie year that was the fluke, and last year was the real Anthony Duclair, becoming just the latest in a long line of “promising goal scorers” whose production dries up in the desert.
The grades of all the other Coyotes players can be found on our master post here.
What Grade Would You Give Anthony Duclair?
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