We need some good news around these parts, so let's talk about the one guy who seems to make everyone smile: Anthony Duclair.
While the story isn't particularly new, the fact that Duclair slipped to the Rangers in the third round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft has been resurfacing as Duclair continues to impress at the NHL level. If he wasn't national news before, he's becoming national news now.
More and more beat reporters are saying things like this:
Other takeaway from game: Anthony Duclair looks darn good. How was he a third rounder?— James Mirtle (@mirtle) October 13, 2014
TSN's Bob McKenzie asked the same question, and published a story yesterday taking a deeper look at Duclair's fall from grace -- which allowed him to land right into the Rangers' arms. The often forgotten part about this story, however, is the Rangers actually passed on Duclair, too. Twice.
"We didn't have a first- or second-round pick in that (2013) draft," said Ranger director of player personnel Gordie Clark, "so we were really surprised to see (Duclair) still there in the third."
Not so surprised, though, to take him with the 65th overall pick, which the Rangers used to select Adam Tambellini. Or, for that matter, not surprised enough to take him with the 75th pick, when New York drafted Pavel Buchnevich instead. Not only was Duclair a third-round pick, he was the Rangers' third pick in the third round, a stunning fall for a dynamic and offensively gifted prospect who started the 2012-13 season as a potential first-rounder.
Hindsight is 20/20; but looking back on that draft it seems ludicrous the Rangers would risk taking Adam Tambellini before either Duclair and Buchnevich. At the time it was somewhat defensible; but right now it looks like insanity served with a side of crazy.
As for how Duclair actually fell? McKenzie talked about the Patrick Roy factor (emphasis mine):
The exclamation point on a really difficult draft year was that even when Roy left Quebec to become the head coach and dominant voice of the Colorado Avalanche, he didn't use his influence for the Avs to take Duclair in the second round (Colorado took Chris Bigras 32nd overall) or even the third (goalie Spencer Martin 63rd overall was Colorado's choice).
The Avalanche looked as though they were poised to take Seth Jones No. 1 overall that year but from the moment Roy arrived in Denver, the focus shifted to MacKinnon. Roy's powers were far greater than that of a mere head coach. If Roy had really wanted Duclair, the belief throughout the NHL was that he was there for the taking. When Colorado passed on Duclair in the second and third round, it was interpreted a giant red flag for the rest of the league. So his stock plummeted.
Here's the story behind this: Duclair was suspended for "attitude issues" that actually stemmed from the team's leadership group (at the time) essentially pointing fingers. Adam Herman will help me fill in the gaps:
Duclair didn't get along with Patrick Roy; what a surprise. His coach last year, former NHL d-man Phillippe Boucher, loved his attitude.— Adam Herman (@Herman_NYRBlog) October 6, 2014
You don't name an 18-year-old with "attitude issues" an assistant captain of your team. Duclair was probably in line for the "C" this year.— Adam Herman (@Herman_NYRBlog) October 6, 2014
Further on Duclair: Remparts were falling apart, captains tried to pass blame & voted to suspend him and Erne; 2 of the 3 are out of hockey.— Adam Herman (@Herman_NYRBlog) October 6, 2014
We all know Roy can be crazy. Sometimes coaches play favorites -- or dislike players -- and it clouds their judgement on skill and talent. In this case it allowed the rest of the league to pass on Duclair multiple times and allow him to fall to the Rangers at the 80th overall pick.
I don't want to quote all of Bob's story since you would have no reason to go read it, but there are quotes from Gordie Clark in there about how the team never got the impression Duclair was anything other than humble. There's also a story about why Duclair stood out to Clark. If you haven't yet. click the above link and read the story.
Yes, the Rangers have an important game against the Islanders tonight, but Duclair is one of the players who might have an impact in that game. Actually, Duclair is going to have an impact on the Rangers for a long, long time.
We have Patrick Roy to thank for that.