As many expected, just a day after helping Team Canada win gold over Team Russia in what turned out to be an exciting World Junior Championships final, Anthony Duclair was sent back to his Quebec Major Junior club, the Quebec Remparts, to finish out the season.
At the beginning of training camp this year, Rangers management had a keen eye on the 19 year-old Duclair but no expectation that he would stick with the club. He forced his way onto the roster with a lethal mix of speed, athleticism, and high-end playmaking ability that was impossible to ignore. But with the Rangers' relatively strong depth up and down the lineup, it became increasingly clear that Duclair would only see ice time in spurts, regardless of his vast potential.
He managed 7 points (1g, 6a) in 18 games with a 51.4 CF% and relatively strong 1.91 5v5 P/60 in limited action playing all over the lineup, including on the fourth line.
Duclair will return to the club that he scored 50 goals and 99 points for last season. This is obviously huge news for them, as they sit second in the QMJHL's ultra competitive Eastern Division, just 1 point behind Rimouski Oceanic. While the team has not struggled to score goals in the absence of Duclair (4th in the league), they will certainly benefit from his presence on the top line and powerplay.
The move is especially noteworthy because the Remparts host the CHL Memorial Cup this season. Host teams receive an automatic bid into the annual tournament featuring the best of each Canadian Major Junior league (WHL, OHL, QMJHL).
This means that Duclair will most likely not be able to return to the Rangers until the very end of May, unless the Remparts make the highly unlikely decision to release him back prior to then. Such a move would be unprecedented, but is not against the rules. Just don't expect it. The Remparts have too much at stake to do that.
Once the Remparts' season ends, Duclair will be eligible to return to New York, or be assigned to Hartford.
Note: I have seen a few media outlets report that the reason for the timing of this move has to do with the QMJHL trade deadline, which is today at 1pm. The misinterpretation has to do with roster freezes. The trade deadline would not freeze out a previously rostered player who appears on the team's eligibility list, either as a yet to be signed player or a player on loan to another club. Duclair fits this bill. As such, the Rangers could have held onto Duclair longer if they so chose, and sent him back later. They elected not to do so, but not because of the QMJHL trade deadline.