At long last, a long-term decision has been made on Ranger rookie Anthony Duclair, and it was undoubtedly the right one. The Rangers announced on Tuesday that the 19-year old forward, who won the Gold Medal the previous evening with Team Canada at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, had been reassigned to the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) January 6, 2015
Prior to playing in the World Junior’s, Duclair skated in 18 games with the Rangers, and registered one goal and six assists for seven points during that time. While the numbers aren’t exactly stand out, Duclair did play well during his stint in New York, and showed that he has what it takes to be a very good full-time NHL player in the not so distant future.
However, given the current depth situation in New York, it simply did not make sense for the Rangers to hold on to Duclair. Throughout the season, Alain Vigneault has said time and time again that if Anthony Duclair is going to play, he is going to be in a top-six role. If that wasn’t going to be in the cards on a particular night, then he wasn’t going to play. This was something the Rangers bench boss remained firm with, and never wavered away from.
Now, with full health returning to the Rangers’ lineup, and JT Miller playing too well to strip of a roster spot, Duclair has become, in a way, the odd man out. It is true that the Rangers could, if they really wanted to, hold on to the native of Quebec, but with the understanding that he may be sidelined more than he’d be dressing for games.
Thankfully for the Rangers and their prospect, they chose the smart option and decided to send Duclair back to the QMJHL, where he will not only compete against others who are in very similar situations, but he will also, obvious as this may sound, have a chance to play on a day-in and day-out basis. And that, for a developing 19-year-old is the biggest take away from this call.
There is very little doubt that Anthony Duclair has sky-high potential. If he continues to develop the “right way,” he could grow into a star on Broadway. Having him sitting, though, and watching games from press row, as he found himself doing all too often during his final days with the Rangers prior to the World Junior’s, was and will not help his growth as a player. Now, fresh off of his Gold Medal winning experience with Team Canada, Duclair will have the opportunity to grow and compete amongst his peers and cohorts his age.
With this decision, Duclair will not be eligible to again join the Rangers until after the Memorial Cup in late May. For he and the Rangers, this is the right move. While it may seem tough in the short term to let go of such high-end talent for the remainder (or there about) of this season, this is a smart long term decision. Five years from now, this will be looked at as having been a no-brainer.
The next time the Rangers see Duclair, whether that be in June for the Stanley Cup Final, or next fall for training camp, he’ll be bigger, stronger, smarter, and more experienced, and he’ll be better off all around. We’ve seen glimpses of what this kid can achieve on the big stage. Now we’ll just have to wait with anticipation for the next step in Anthony Duclair’s career. Until then, he’s sure to put on a show up there in Quebec with the Remparts.
Jake Gittler is now in his second season as a contributing member of The Hockey Writers. After spending the 2014-15 season working in Communications for Adirondack Flames of the AHL and covering the New York Rangers here for The Hockey Writers, Jake’s coverage has been switched over to the Colorado Avalanche for the 2015-16 season. Jake can be reached via email at Jakegittler@gmail.com, or on Twitter @Jgittler_hockey.