Capitals Potential Player Acquisition Target: Anthony Duclair

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In the latest of our series on potential acquisition targets the Capitals could possibly pursue this off-season, we’re going to take a look at current Florida Panthers forward Anthony Duclair. With the Capitals and General Manager Brian MacLellan looking to upgrade the top-six forwards this off-season, Duclair is an intriguing option.

The statistics and salary cap information used in this post are courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, Hockey Reference, CapFriendly, Dobber Sports, HockeyViz, and Evolving Hockey. If you’d like to learn more about the statistical terms used in this post, please check out our NHL Analytics Glossary.

Needs Addressed

Anthony Duclair plays the left wing and has slotted in the top six for the Florida Panthers when he’s been healthy. This past season, he spent the majority of his time on ice on a line with Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe.

The Capitals are desperately seeking a secondary scorer for the second line. With the odds of Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson playing as the wings on the first line for the Capitals, there is a definite need for a pure goal scorer for the second line.


Duclair is a 27-year-old left winger and former 3rd round selection (80th overall) by the New York Rangers in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. In 20 games played this past season, Duclair scored 2 goals and 7 assists for 9 points. Duclair was limited in action during the 2022-23 season due to an Achilles injury he suffered during last off-season that required surgery to repair. Although Duclair didn’t have a ton of production in the regular season, he posted 4 goals and 7 assists for 11 points in 20 games during the Panthers’ run to the Stanley Cup Final.

In his career, he has scored 122 goals and 139 assists for 261 points in 490 games played. He has two 20-goal seasons (2015-16 and 2019-20) and one 30-goal season (2021-22).

Although Duclair is only 27 years-old, he has been a bit of a journeyman so far in his career. He started with the Rangers, then was traded to the Arizona Coyotes in March 2015. Arizona then traded Duclair to the Chicago Blackhawks in January 2018. The following season, Duclair signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets and was then traded to the Ottawa Senators. Then in December 2020, Duclair signed a three-year deal with a cap hit of $3M with the Florida Panthers. Duclair is entering the final year of that 3-year deal.

Five-on-five on-ice performance

Here’s Duclair’s performance in possession metrics during five-on-five play this past season.

The metric that really sticks out here is his performance in goals for percentage (GF%), where the Panthers stacked up 58.33% of goals scored while Duclair was on the ice. Obviously, a big portion of this was playing with Barkov (14 even-strength goals) and Carter Verhaeghe (35 even-strength goals). Everything else is rather middling, which isn’t too surprising considering Duclair was returning from a pretty serious Achilles injury.

Here’s Duclair’s five-on-five chance generation performance this past season:

The Panthers were very successful in converting on the slight majority of high-danger chances (HDCF%) they created. As we touched on previously, this is largely due to the quality of linemates that Duclair was deployed with. We’ll also see in a minute why Duclair’s metrics during five-on-five play are rather underwhelming.

Here’s Duclair’s isolated impact chart, which measures his actual impact on the performance of his team when he’s on the ice versus on the bench:

As we’ve touched on a bit, Duclair is very solid in generating offensive value in expected goals for per sixty (xGF/60). The concerning piece is that the Panthers saw a 9% increase in expected goals against per sixty (xGA/60) while Duclair was on the ice. This is concerning because the majority of Duclair’s ice time came with Barkov, who has an isolated impact of -6% on xGA/60. Verhaeghe also had his difficulties defensively in this regard (+7% xGA/60).

Rate Adjusted Plus-Minus

Rate-Adjusted Plus-Minus (RAPM) is an efficient way to measure a player’s performance in relation to the league, and in relation to replacement level. Here’s Duclair’s RAPM chart from Evolving Hockey:

As we can see, Duclair is rather effective offensively during five-on-five play, but definitely has his struggles defensively. Any net positives from generating Corsi shot attempts (CF/60) is drastically outweighed by his Corsi shot attempts against per sixty (CA/60). His strength in generating xGF/60 is outweighed by his xGA/60 ranks.

Roster fit

Duclair can definitely contribute, offensively when he’s healthy and on his game. He’d be an affordable addition to the second line, and could add some goal scoring that the Caps are in desperate need of adding to the roster. The issue is, even with one of the best two-way centers in the game in Barkov, he still posted negative results, defensively.

The Capitals certainly don’t have any Selke candidates at center on the roster, so it might be a pretty substantial risk to deploy Duclair in a top six role where he’s getting at least 16 minutes of time on ice per game.

Does this make sense for the Caps?

In terms of making the money work, Duclair fits the bill a lot easier than a lot of the other names we’ve covered in this series. With Anthony Mantha and Evgeny Kuznetsov looking more and more like they’ll return for the 2023-24 season, cap space is going to be tight and the need for a goal scorer still exists. We’ve seen the returns from other cap dump trades around the league (Kevin Hayes at 50% salary retained to the Blues for a 6th round pick after Hayes had career high offensive production), and salary retention isn’t really on the table for the Capitals if they want to make a splash in the trade market.

Can you bank on Duclair’s offensive production to outweigh the difficulties he experiences defensively? For a cap hit of $3M and it being the final year of his deal, it’s a relatively low risk option. If the Capitals were to acquire him without parting from a player on the current NHL roster, they would have $4,313,333 in cap space remaining to sign Martin Fehervary and add two roster players for depth.


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By Justin Trudel

About Justin Trudel

Justin is a lifelong Caps fan, with some of his first memories of the sport watching the team in the USAir Arena and the 1998 Stanley Cup appearance. Now a resident of St. Augustine, FL, Justin watches the Caps from afar. Justin graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Political Science from Towson University, and a Master's of Science in Applied Information Technology from Towson University. Justin is currently a product manager. Justin enjoys geeking out over advanced analytics, roster construction, and cap management.
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6 Responses to Capitals Potential Player Acquisition Target: Anthony Duclair

  1. Anonymous says:

    selfish hot-dog Tortorella was right please no

  2. hockeydruid says:

    Thanks for the offer but NO thanks as he has had more down seasons than up ones. Don’t need another potential Mantha on the roster. As for the depth players for the roster, please look to Hershey as several players there deserve a shot!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wow. He doesn’t fit what the Caps are looking for. Might as well run Mantha out there and cross your fingers.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow, Caps are looking for top 6 points. Who do you propose? I wonder if you know what the Caps need.

      • Anonymous says:

        Averages less than 20 goals a year and has been through 6 organizations. That doesn’t scream top 6. I agree with the above thought that Mantha wouldn’t be any worse to see happens.

  4. Jim Lash says:


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