The San Jose Sharks and Arizona Coyotes both had their CBA-mandated ‘bye week’ this past week, but the Desert Dogs were far busier during their time off.
On Thursday, the Coyotes acquired winger Richard Panik and defenseman Laurent Dauphin from Chicago. Leaving Arizona were 22-year-old forward Anthony Duclair, as well as minor-league defenseman minor league defenseman Adam Clendening.
Duclair’s departure from the Pacific division, not Panik’s presence in it, most affects the Sharks. That’s not because he’s been particularly successful against San Jose, since Duclair has not scored a single point in nine career games as a Sharks opponent.
Instead, San Jose should lament the Duclair deal as one they did not get done.
He would have fit well on a team desperately needing speed and youth as the league trends in each direction. San Jose will never be mistaken for the league’s fastest group, and they’re already the fifth-oldest, according to The Athletic.
Only Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier are younger than Duclair, who could have given the Sharks another (baby) face in their emerging youth movement. The same cannot be said of the other players San Jose’s been linked to.
Evander Kane, for example, is 26, and half-a-season away from unrestricted free agency. Meanwhile, Duclair will become a restricted free agent this summer, and is (at the earliest) three seasons away from becoming an unrestricted one.
That kind of cost certainty will become increasingly important to the Sharks, and soon. Martin Jones and Marc-Edouard Vlasic will see their new deals kick in next season, while Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski are eligible to sign new contract extensions.
Tomas Hertl and Chris Tierney are restricted free agents this summer, while Labanc and Meier will need new deals after next season. San Jose should still have space to spend, but that’s a sizeable commitment as is.
In other words, a pending free agent like Kane will be hard to retain. Meanwhile, acquiring a player with term on their deal, such as Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman and Montreal’s Max Pacioretty, means the Sharks would not only give up more trade assets, but future flexibility.
For good reason, it didn’t take as much for Chicago to acquire Duclair as it would have to trade for those other players. He’s coming off of a 15-point season, and has only scored 20 goals once so far in his career.
Plus, there are concerns about what drove Duclair to request a trade in the first place. Duclair told Chicago reporters that he “felt like [he] needed a change of scenery” and that he “didn’t have the leash others had” in the desert.
Arizona general manager John Chayka, for his part, told AZ Central “the team wasn’t particularly happy with the player and the player wasn’t particularly happy with the team.” Given San Jose head coach Peter DeBoer’s shorter leash for young players at times, it’s fair to wonder how Duclair would have handled a similar situation with the Sharks.
But his upside is difficult to deny, and San Jose will be hard-pressed to find another available player at the trade deadline that young and that skilled. The Sharks could’ve used Duclair this season and beyond, but now will have to turn their attention to older, pricer options.