Flames Should Look to Make a Deal for Panthers’ Duclair

While the Calgary Flames have picked up things as of late with points in five of its last six games, one thing remains true; this team could use another scoring forward in their top nine.

Anthony Duclair Florida Panthers
Anthony Duclair, Florida Panthers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

By all accounts, Brad Treliving is still looking to add a forward with some offensive flare to his group, and, as fate would have it, there may be one available on a team that he swung a massive deal with this summer.

Panthers May Be Forced to Move Duclair

As a result of a torn Achilles tendon during offseason training, Anthony Duclair has yet to play in the 2022-23 season. That could soon change, however, as the 27-year-old is quickly progressing through his recovery and, according to Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli, is expected to return in the near future.

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Given how productive Duclair has been through his first two seasons as a member of the Florida Panthers, you would think his return would be nothing but great news for the organization. Unfortunately, however, it is just creating more of a headache for general manager Bill Zito, who has his team in a very tricky salary cap predicament at the moment.

As things stand right now, the Panthers are at the league’s maximum cap hit. This means, that in order to activate Duclair and his $3 million salary from long-term injured reserve (LTIR), they will need to move out some money, or, perhaps trade Duclair himself. If this is indeed the route that the Panthers choose to go, there will be plenty of interest from several teams, and the Flames should be one of them.

Duclair An Extremely Productive & Affordable Player

As mentioned, Duclair is on a deal that pays him just $3 million annually, and has an additional season remaining on that contract. That is a very team-friendly number for a player who, despite taking some time to find his way at the NHL level, has become very productive in recent years.

Prior to signing his three-year, $9 million deal with the Panthers during the 2020 offseason, Duclair was coming off of a breakout campaign with the Ottawa Senators in which he scored 23 goals and 40 points in 60 games. He followed that up with a very solid 10 goals and 32 points in 43 outings during his first season as a Panther, and was even better in 2021-22, with a career-best 31 goals and 58 points in 74 contests.

Numbers like that are solid for nearly any player in the NHL, let alone somebody on a $3 million price tag. Predominantly used as a left winger, he would give Flames’ head coach Darryl Sutter a great option as a potential linemate for either Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli, or perhaps Nazem Kadri and Andrew Mangiapane.

Anthony Duclair Florida Panthers
Anthony Duclair, Florida Panthers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Now, making this deal work for the Flames would require some cap juggling of their own, but Duclair’s relatively low salary makes things less difficult than they could be. Currently, the Flames sit with slightly less than $700,000 in cap space, meaning they would need to move roughly $2.3 million to fit in the Panthers forward.

Due to the previously mentioned Panthers’ cap situation, they wouldn’t be able to take any money back in the trade, meaning Treliving would have to flip another roster player elsewhere. That could come by trading Dillon Dube, who has been underwhelming yet again in 2022-23, and, as luck would have it, has a cap hit of $2.3 million. Moving on from Dube with no roster players coming back in return would open up the space needed to add Duclair.

Another option Treliving has if he doesn’t want to move any players from his current roster is placing Oliver Kylington on LTIR. The 25-year-old continues to remain away from the team due to personal reasons, and a return to the lineup remains unknown. Putting his $2.5 million cap hit on LTIR would once again create the money needed for Duclair, though it could cause headaches down the line for Treliving if and when Kylington is able to return.

Great Opportunity for Flames to Add Roster Need

Regardless of how Treliving wants to approach this, he would be very wise to make it happen. Players as talented as Duclair, on a deal that is as team-friendly as his is, don’t come around very often. He would add some serious offense to a team that already has plenty of weapons in that regard, and would only help boost their status as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender in the Western Conference.

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