Prospect Ramblings: Should we take Anthony Duclair seriously?

by Hayden Soboleski on November 19, 2017

***

Anthony Duclair's hat-trick last night might have spurred more frustration than excitement in keeper leagues, because it once again makes us debate whether he's too risky to drop or worth keeping for the long haul. After a promising rookie campaign he was all disappointment as a sophomore, but has started the road back to relevance in 2017-18. Should we get serious about him now just a year after being demoted to the AHL for a month? Let's look at a few factors:

 

1. HIS STREAKY-NESS

In 2015-16 he totaled 44 points in 81 games for Arizona. Not bad at all – owners could expect roughly 0.5 points-per-game, right? The season in fact started as follows:

7 points in 6 games…

1 point in 10 games…

5 points in 5 games…

0 points in 5 games…

5 points in 5 games…

0 points in 5 games (again)…

5 points in 5 games…

0 points in 5 games (again again)…

That's uncanny to say the least, and the rest of the season was similar swings. So there were certainly warning signs of the rookie not being the most reliable scorer despite his overall numbers being impressive.

 

For 2016-17, I dont need to go over his disappointing sophomore year given its lack of substance, but I will point out the following:

Longest streak without a point: 7 games 

Best hot streak:  5 points in 8 games

So essentially, his cold streaks weren't too out of the ordinary, but his hot streaks just weren't hot enough to match expectations. And before we go citing his AHL time as an improvement factor – he was just as streaky upon his return in March, putting up 1 point in his first 7 games back. Maybe he was destined to forever be a temporary waiver-wire pickup for the most desperate poolies.

 

Now in 2017-18, he has bounced back to the tune of 10 points in 16 games played thus far. Even better – 8 of those points are at even strength. The most exciting part is the fact 20% into the year, his longest stretch without getting a point is 3 games. This is an improvement over not just his terrible 2016-17, but his impressive 2015-16 where he regularly went quiet for 5+ games. And its not like the Coyotes have been lighting it up this year, but this does lead to the next factor…

 

2. HIS LINEMATES

Fantasy value can be all about the linemates. Namestnikov has skyrocketed in value now playing with Stamkos and Kucherov. Could Duclair just be in need of some more talent around him?

 

In his 44-point campaign, his most frequent even-strength linemates were (courtesy of FrozenPool):

Frequency    Strength         Line Combination
22.97% EV DUCLAIR,ANTHONY – HANZAL,MARTIN – RIEDER,TOBIAS
20.46% EV DOMI,MAX – DUCLAIR,ANTHONY – HANZAL,MARTIN
11.67% EV DUCLAIR,ANTHONY – TANGUAY,ALEX – VERMETTE,ANTOINE

At the time, Hanzal was the team's top offensive centerman, Rieder was a volume-shooter, and Domi was the highest-scoring desert dog so most of Duclair's time was spent in as good of situations as he could possible receive.

 

In his 15-point regression, his most frequent even-strength linemates were:

Frequency   Strength   Line Combination
17.22% EV DUCLAIR,ANTHONY – HOLLAND,PETER – MCGINN,JAMIE
14.01% EV DOMI,MAX – DUCLAIR,ANTHONY – DVORAK,CHRISTIAN
11.18% EV DUCLAIR,ANTHONY – DVORAK,CHRISTIAN – MCGINN,JAMIE
10.56% EV DUCLAIR,ANTHONY – HANZAL,MARTIN – RIEDER,TOBIAS

Looking at that top line item, I dont think it's a mystery why the production wasn't heating up quite as much. Spending significantly less time with Hanzal, Domi, and Reider could very well have been the reason Duclair was unable to ride his hot streaks to their maximum output.

 

Now in 2016-17, his time is looking like this:

Frequency   Strength   Line Combination
12.07% EV DOMI,MAX – DUCLAIR,ANTHONY – DVORAK,CHRISTIAN
8.78% EV DUCLAIR,ANTHONY – DVORAK,CHRISTIAN – PERLINI,BRENDAN
8.66% EV COUSINS,NICK – DUCLAIR,ANTHONY – KEMPE,MARIO
8.54% EV DUCLAIR,ANTHONY – MARTINOOK,JORDAN – RICHARDSON,BRAD
7.2% EV DUCLAIR,ANTHONY – DVORAK,CHRISTIAN – RIEDER,TOBIAS
6.83% EV DOMI,MAX – DUCLAIR,ANTHONY – STEPAN,DEREK
6.71% EV COUSINS,NICK – DUCLAIR,ANTHONY – DVORAK,CHRISTIAN

I included more combos here because obviously Arizona's lines are getting blended on a regular basis. Domi, Dvorak, and Perlini are certainly more capable linemates than McGinn and Holland, but the most important point here is that he's not playing with Keller. It would've been easiest to point at the Calder-candiate as the source of Duclair's revival but that doesn't seem to be the case. I'd say hedeserves more credit in this regard than I've been giving him. There is one last factor to consider though…

 

3. THE SHOOTING PERCENTAGE

We all know the deal – unless you're an elite sniper you're unlikely to hold a shooting percentage over 11-12% over an entire year. If you do manage the feat, you're probably due for some serious regression the following season. Duclair's history looks like this:

2015-16: 19%

2016-17: 7%

2017-18 (so far): 20%

 

So as well as Duclair is doing this year to prove to me he's a changed player who wont get quite as cold…he's going to get a little frosty when that shooting % drops down a little closer to last year's number.

 

To summarize, Duclair is:

– Scoring at a career-high pace,

– Shortening the length of his cold-streaks,

– doing the above WITHOUT Keller driving his line,

– but also doing this with a ridiculous shooting %

 

His fantasy relevance depends entirely on your league format and depth, but in any pools like the DPFHL DobberProspect writers league where anyone getting regular minutes has value, Duclair is looking to be trending in the right direction. In cap leagues especially (he currently comes in with an AAV of 1.2M), he could be a nice gem with his improving consistency. His goal-scoring is going to slow down eventually, but his overall point production is starting to look like the real deal to me. 

 

***

FIRST NHL GOALS TIME!

 

Peter Cehlarik makes sure Jake DeBrusk's great play isn't wasted:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

 

Jonny Brodzinski shows some nice patience before unleashing a surprising backhand:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

 

***
Hayden Soboleski

@soboleskih