Anthony Duclair returns to the Garden already an NHL star

Duclair returns (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Duclair returns (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Keith Yandle is a top defenseman in this league. If the New York Rangers would’ve won the Cup last year, there would be little lament from me about Anthony Duclair. The fact remains though that they didn’t and this young phenom is already shining in Arizona.

“I love the Duke,” Alain Vigneault said with a huge smile yesterday. How could you not, the kid was big, fast, smart and had hands of gold. He returns to the Garden tonight with fellow rookie standout Max Domi to give the Rangers fits.

In only 6 games this season, Duclair has 5 goals and 7 points. His partner in crime Max has 3 goals and 7 points as well. For the older fans, Max is the son of former Rangers tough guy, Tie Domi. This was back in the day when enforcers were not only needed, they were beloved in the 80’s and 90’s.

As the young Duclair lights up the lamp with the Yotes (by the way, his 5 goals and 7 points would lead the Blueshirts in both categories), Keith Yandle continues to struggle to find himself in NY.

[su_quote cite=”Newsday” url=”″]”He’s got all the attributes,” Vigneault said, referring to Yandle. “He’s just got to learn to relax, execute a little bit better. Sometimes it takes a little time to get used to a new environment. Since he’s been here, he’s been conscious of his play without the puck and the implications of what we want from him on the ice. The games we were in, maybe compared to Phoenix, where ours meant a lot, meant a little adjustment for him. He’ll be fine.”[/su_quote]

Yandle (Bruce Bennet / Getty)

Yandle (Bruce Bennet / Getty)

While the head coach is being very supportive, the Rangers power play has been fairly abysmal. Yandle needs to stop trying to get comfortable and start simply asserting himself and taking control. He is without a doubt the Rangers best offensive defenseman and no slouch in his own zone. Ryan McDonagh may be the Captain of the Rangers, but Yandle needs to be the anchor of that blue-line and lead it.

To that effect, I put it on AV to start weighing on him more heavily…especially on the PP. There is no reason why Yandle shouldn’t play the full 2 minutes in the same way that P.K. Subban and Erik Karlsson do for their respective teams. They are the QB’s for their team’s PP units and the same responsibilities should be laid completely on Yandle’s shoulders too.

If Yandle can’t do that much this season, the trading away of Anthony Duclair will be an even harder pill to swallow going forward. This trade reminds me a lot of when the Rangers dealt young star, Tony Amonte to Chicago for two 4th line grinders in 1994 (Stephane Matteau and Brian Noonan). Matter of fact if I’m being honest, the only reason I was able to swallow that pill was because the Rangers won a Championship. It’s looking like Keith Yandle will have to do the same now if Rangers fans are ever going to be able to accept watching Duclair tear up the league in Arizona.

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Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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