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Duclair got recall despite being ‘very average, at best’ in AHL

Arizona Coyotes v New Jersey Devils

NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 25: Anthony Duclair #10 of the Arizona Coyotes skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 25, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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When Arizona brought Anthony Duclair back from the minors five days ago, most assumed he earned it on merit.

But that doesn’t sound like case.

“His experience with the AHL was very average — at best — but he set a standard for himself we know he can play to and we have to see if he get there again,” Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said, per Arizona Sports. “We wanted to see if we can grab some positives out of the season for him.”

Circumstances certainly fell Duclair’s way. Forward spots opened up in Arizona following the deadline deals of Martin Hanzal and Ryan White, and Duclair was quickly tabbed to fill one of the holes.

But judging by Tippett’s comments and the 21-year-old’s numbers in Tucson -- one goal and eight points in 16 games -- this wasn’t about getting surging scorer up to the big club.

It’s about trying to salvage a bad situation.

Duclair scored 20 goals and 44 points as a rookie last year, creating a dynamic duo alongside Max Domi. But the fall from grace has been sharp. His sophomore production fell off a cliff -- just three goals through 42 games -- and there were several signs the organization had soured on him. Trade rumblings in November. Healthy scratch in December. AHL demotion in January.

One has to think Duclair might not be long for the desert.

In that light, this recent recall makes sense. Get Duclair back up to the bigs, let him regain some confidence, and hopefully rediscover his scoring touch.

If there’s a deal to be made in the offseason, a strong finish to the campaign could help move it along.