Anthony Duclair was in a yellow no-contact jersey for the Florida Panthers on Sunday. Reports are that he could shed that this week and is finally nearing an on-ice return for the team as they do their best to avoid missing the playoffs after being the best regular-season team in the NHL in 2021-22. However, sitting fifth in the Wild Card standings in the Eastern Conference and with salary cap issues facing the organization, trade talk will inevitably pick up.
There has been speculation the Panthers might shop names like Sam Reinhart or Sam Bennett to shake up the core and make a desperate move. Perhaps the more logical option is to trade Duclair, who is making $3 million, solves some of their cap issues, is a UFA at the end of the 2023-24 season, and would garner interest around the NHL if teams were confident his injuries weren’t going to plague him for the rest of this season.
Let’s take a look at some teams that might give Duclair a longer look.
The Calgary Flames Need Scoring
The Flames are working hard to add to their roster and need a top-six scorer. A healthy Duclair certainly qualifies and his 31 goals last season have to be looking awfully attractive. Not only that, he’s got experience playing with Jonathan Huberdeau, who is now a Flame after a blockbuster trade saw two Panthers come in and Matthew Tkachuk wind up in Florida.
The Flames are looking for players with term on their deals. Again, Duclair qualifies here. With one more season on his contract, he might make a nice fit in Calgary where the team has a need for what he brings and has the cap room to add his contract. Bringing back Bennett is probably not the play and adding Reinhart might be too pricey an option.
New Jersey Devils Need a Backup Plan for Meier
Another team looking for scoring, the Devils have been linked to Timo Meier. He’s probably the most expensive option on the market and the Devils would need to look at his qualifying offer of $10 million and try to figure out what to do moving forward. With other contracts coming, specifically a lucrative one for Jesper Bratt, perhaps GM Tom Fitzgerald would prefer to look at a less expensive option if the price for Meier is too high.
The acquisition cost on Duclair won’t be massive, especially if the Panthers lose a few more games and find themselves out of the race and sellers.
Oilers Complications on Right Wing
Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli threw out the idea that the Edmonton Oilers might be an intriguing fit with the Panthers, moving Jesse Puljujarvi straight across for Duclair. Both make the same salary and both would offer their new teams something different. The issue here is money and because both teams need to move salary, more would have to happen here for this to make any sense.
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Where the Oilers could get involved here is if they move Puljujarvi in a salary cap dump deal and then learn Kailer Yamamoto is questionable or not ready to return. His injury situation has been complicated and it’s not entirely clear how long he’ll be out of the lineup. At times, it looks like he’ll be ready to come back. At others, it seems like he could be out a while longer. If the Yamamoto issue drags into the postseason, the Oilers will need a right-winger because they’ll have moved Puljujarvi and don’t have Yamamoto to call upon.
Carolina Hurricanes Buying?
Without Max Pacioretty, the Hurricanes could use some scoring punch. A healthy Duclair has the ability to score in bunches. He can be streaky, but all Carolina needs is for Duclair to be productive at the right time and a red-hot Duclair helping the Hurricanes get over that one thing that has plagued them in previous playoff runs would be extremely helpful.
The Hurricanes have over $10 million in deadline cap space to make a move. Duclair would be just one of the pieces they’d add and being able to acquire players without having to give up major assets is going to be key to GM Don Waddell tackling multiple trades.
Are the Golden Knights Buying?
With Mark Stone out of the lineup, if the Golden Knights become deadline buyers, expect them to look for trades to add a winger who can score and then someone who can play smart defensively and kill penalties. That might require two deals and the Golden Knights don’t have a ton of assets to give in trades for players with some real cache to their name. Duclair might fit well if the Golden Knights are willing to take a risk on a player who has injury questions.
The extra year on Duclair’s deal isn’t the perfect scenario for Vegas but this is a team that has been notorious for figuring out ways to move contracts. Don’t be shocked if a Duclair comes in and a bigger name leaves in the offseason.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”