Fans outside of New York aren’t even aware of his existence, However, it might be time to take notice of New York Rangers forward, Anthony Duclair, who is ready to breakout in a big way.
Duclair, 19, wasn’t even on the team’s radar going into the season. A third round pick (80th overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Duclair wasn’t expected to make the team’s roster in just one year.
However, a remarkable pre-season, which saw Anthony record 5 points in 5 games, forced the Rangers hand as Duclair was indeed that good, and it was his time to prove it.
New York already possessed an impressive core of forwards on its roster. Led by Rick Nash and his nine goals, the Rangers boast most of the talent from it’s 2014 Stanley Cup runner-up team, and even added Kevin Hayes, a standout from Boston University, to its impressive offensive line.
As a result, playing time for Duclair hasn’t been easy to come by. He has been a healthy scratch for two of the team’s nine games , and has only averaged 13 minutes of ice time.
However, he might not be collecting dust on the bench much longer.
Of the seven games Duclair has appeared in he has been on the score sheet in four of them. He tallied two assists in an October 11th game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and added two more in separate games against the Montreal Canadiens and The New York Islanders.
The most telling sign of Duclair’s maturity on the ice is his impressive +/- rating of 5, which shows he not only has offensive potential, but the defensive chops of an NHL player as well.
The only thing missing from Duclair’s young resume was his first NHL goal, which he scored in dramatic fashion.
With the team down to the Minnesota Wild 4-3 in the 3rd period, Duclair took a long pass from Matt Hunwcik. Duclair received the puck just behind center ice, and drove it just in front of Minnesota’s blue-line where he fired a shot that went past goalie Darci Kuemper.
His first NHL goal would prove to be the spark the team needed, as the Rangers tied the game seconds later and held on for the win.
The crowd at the legendary Madison Square Garden chanted out Duclair’s nickname, “Duuuukkkkee”, and New York’s newest star just couldn’t get enough.
“It doesn’t get old,” he said of the chants. “To get the first one in Madison Square Garden, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
The only thing stopping Duclair from legendary status in New York might his lack of ice time. When asked about Duclair’s playing time, Coach Alain Vigneault seemed to have faith in the Duke.
“When he plays they way he did the last two games, it’s not hard [to give him ice time],“
With his coach and the fans of New York behind him, Anthony Duclair could be something special, and hopefully the rest of the hockey world catches on as well.