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Anthony Duclair Makes Smart Bet, Working Out With McDavid, Matthews

Anthony Duclair has made a smart play this offseason as he starts to work out with stars like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews.

Emily Sadler of Sportsnet provided a number of updates on the status of some of the NHL’s few remaining big-name free agents. While talking about Mike Hoffman, Sami Vatanen and Travis Hamonic and others, she pointed out something quite interesting when it came to winger Anthony Duclair.

Related: Duclair Turns Down Huge Offer, Did He Sabotage His Own Free Agency?

Sadler notes that Duclair has joined a pretty elite group of NHL superstars in Arizona to work out and get ready for the 2020-21 NHL season. Among the group are Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Matt Dumba and Jonathan Toews. While Duclair is skilled fast and talented, he’s also one of a few NHL players who hasn’t landed a contract with an organization this offseason. Sadler believes that Duclair’s reason for joining this group is to change that fact.

By being associated with the likes of McDavid and Matthews, not only will Duclair naturally get better, but he’s thinking NHL GMs will look at what he’s doing and it might force clubs to reconsider not making an offer.

Speculation is that Duclair hit the free agency market with a number in his mind. When that number never came from teams — partly because numbers were down across the board and partly because Duclair has a bit of a reputation for being unable to stick with a team — he was left out of the group of forwards who signed rather quickly in the first few days. As teams now see what kind of money they have left to work with and some clubs are missing out on certain players, perhaps they’ll move Duclair to the top of the backup plan list.

Duclair is representing himself without an agent. Many that thought was an extremely uninformed and unwise decision to make. That said, this might be one of the first really smart moves he’s made since he tried to take on a very odd NHL free agent market alone.

There Is Another Benefit That Could Come From All of This

There is something else that could happen as Duclair gets workouts in with some pretty good players, many of whom have some influence in their respective markets.

What if McDavid gets to working out with Duclair and sees something he likes? What if Duclair and McDavid develop a little bit of chemistry? What if Duclair says to himself, ‘Hey, what happens if I sign for one year at a low cost with the Oliers and maybe get a chance to play with this guy I’ve been working out with all offseason?’

The Oilers don’t have much room to add right now, but stranger things have happened. Maybe Toews makes a call to Stan Bowman. Maybe Dumba reaches out to Bill Guerin…

Next: Toffoli and Anderson Promise to Revamp Canadiens Horrible Power Play

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