Anthony Duclair is better off back in the QMJHL
The kid that took us all by storm has now been scratched two games in a row. Alain Vigneault indicated that it would be a “process” just like with any other young player. “Because I’ve coached in junior before, coached in the American League and have been coaching in the NHL for a couple of years, I’ve got a pretty good grasp of our time frame with him,” AV told reporters. “He’s going to practice and we’ll see the next game.”
That next game just happens to be Saturday night in Anthony Duclair’s native Montreal. Here’s a bold statement, AV is going to let the kid play that game. Here’s another one – it may his last one in the NHL this season.
The writing is on the wall and it is possible the Rangers have already come to the conclusion. The success of another youngster, Kevin Hayes probably meets AV’s young kid quota for the season. In all seriousness, Hayes’ ability to adapt to the center ice position is why he’s earned a spot.
Yesterday, Duclair was asked about sitting out. “I’m 19 years old, still a kid, playing against men, it’s normal for me to sit out.” The kid continued to answer, “Now that I’m out, I can watch some clips, work hard in practice and try to get back in the lineup as soon as possible.” In true teenage fashion he did also say, “It sucks.”
I’ve stated time and time again, this kid belongs in the NHL. Here’s the problem, we aren’t a team like the Florida Panthers who have no hopes of contending. The Rangers are going to make noise this year and have every intention to make this a longer season. Taking that into consideration, will AV trust a 19 year old kid with big minutes in the Stanley Cup Final? Did he trust JT Miller? There’s your answer.
The regular season in the QMJHL is only 68 games long and it is not even close to being as demanding as an NHL season. Can Duclair withstand the 82 game pounding plus grueling playoffs and be productive? Highly unlikely and the Rangers don’t have the luxury of sending him down to the AHL if he isn’t producing and calling him back up. QMJHL rules have it that once he’s sent back, he stays. If Duclair could be sent down to the AHL, like Kevin Hayes can be, then he probably would have a shot of being here longer.
Another issue is the depth chart. When Stepan comes back, someone needs to go and someone needs to be scratched. The Rangers will also want to get JT Miller and/or Jesper Fast back up with the big club as well. Both players are legit NHL prospects and the Rangers need to know what they have and what they should do with them. Plus, AV was clear that if Duclair isn’t playing top 9 minutes, he isn’t staying.
Make no mistake, Anthony Duclair is a surefire NHLer and a likely star as well. Sitting around in a press box and languishing up with the big club will not be to his benefit, or the Rangers. When Derek Stepan comes back, Anthony Duclair must be returned to his QMJHL team, the Quebec Remparts.
That is what’s best for Anthony Duclair’s future and the Rangers success this season and beyond.