The Florida Panthers lost in the qualifying round this past season and haven’t won a playoff round since the 2011-2012 season. In fact, the franchise has only been in the post season six times in their 26 seasons. Therefore, any improvement that can be made in the offseason is essential for the Panthers to get back into serious contention in the Eastern Conference.
In a move that should help solidify the offensive attack, the Florida Panthers signed 25-year-old unrestricted free agent Anthony Duclair to a one-year contract. Duclair has bounced around the league since making his debut in 2014-2015 with the New York Rangers. He has since played for the Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators.
After scoring 44 points in 81 games in 2015-2016, Anthony Duclair has struggled to stay on the ice and his production declined. Last season, he bounced back with 40 points in 66 games, including a career-high 20 goals. Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito was impressed with the first-time All-Star as a highly skilled player who can be a reliable contributor on the offensive end.
Shooting from the left side from his natural left-wing position, Anthony Duclair will fit in nicely with a team that was 6th in the NHL is scoring at 3.30 goals per game. Center Jonathan Huberdeau led the Panthers in scoring with 23 goals and 55 assists. Aleksander Barkov, also a center, was second in scoring with 62 points.
How does Duclair fit in the with left wingers already on the team? Last season, Mike Hoffman led all Panthers at that position with 29 goals and 30 assists. Duclair immediately rises to the next line behind Hoffman, as the next highest scoring left winger on the Panthers was Erik Haula with 24 points no 12 goals and 12 assists. Other left wingers on the roster include Ryan Lomberg, Mason Marchment, and Scott Wilson, who scored a combined three points.
Duclair’s presence provides increased stability and depth at a position that was one of the team’s weakest last season in terms of depth. A solid season should prompt the Florida Panthers to ink Anthony Duclair to a longer-term contract at the end of the season.