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How much will Anthony Duclair improve the Islanders’ offense?

July 4, 2024, 11:24 PM ET [82 Comments]
Ben Shelley
New York Islanders Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT

Even with limited cap flexibility, the New York Islanders managed to make a key addition in free agency earlier this week, signing Anthony Duclair to a four-year contract worth $3.5 million per year.

Duclair is coming off a year split between the San Jose Sharks and Tampa Bay Lightning, where he managed a total of 24 goals and 42 points in 73 regular season games. His signing in New York will mark the ninth team of his NHL career, but on a four-year contract, he’ll get some security with the Islanders.

Regarding the cap hit, the Islanders did very well, too. I’ve posted an article analyzing Duclair’s contract at HockeyComparables.com, which can be viewed below:

- ARTICLE: Analyzing Anthony Duclair’s four-year contract

In terms of what Duclair can bring to the lineup though, the Islanders take a step towards filling their biggest need: adding some talent on the wing within their top-six. This past season, their limited options at left wing were usually Anders Lee, Simon Holmstrom, Pierre Engvall and even Casey Cizikas by necessity. Obviously in an ideal world, none of those forwards should be taking a spot in the team's top-six.

But with Duclair in the fold, there’s a good chance we could see him either paired with Bo Horvat and Mathew Barzal on the top line, or playing alongside Brock Nelson and Kyle Palmieri on the second line. Either way, it immediately makes the team’s top-six a lot more respectable.

To point out how much the Islanders relied on their top four forwards last season: while all of Horvat, Barzal, Nelson and Palmieri managed 54 points or more, the fifth-highest producing forward was Anders Lee, who was nearly 20 points lower at just 37 points on the season. So given the huge lack of secondary offense, Duclair is a welcome addition.

Of course, Duclair's contributions have fluctuated a bit from year to year. He produced at an 82-game average of nearly 60 points over his three years with the Florida Panthers, but can be streaky at times. Still, he’s shown he can score goals at a decent rate when playing alongside some other talent, and can help transport the puck up ice with his speed, which is something the Islanders have sorely needed. If Duclair can even score at his 82-game pace from last season (27 goals and 47 points per 82), he'd be one of the team's better-producing forwards.

The Islanders had a huge lack of cap flexibility, so to pull off an addition to their top-six with some term attached is a win. Duclair may not be a superstar, but he’s still poised to be a great fit within the team’s forward group.

After adding the forward, the Islanders' top-six arguably looks more well-rounded, and more capable than it's been in a number of years. It's still far from elite, but with the Duclair addition, the team took a step to address their scoring issues – and with their current roster as constructed, New York looks better on paper than they were to end the 2023-24 season.

- Islanders add Anthony Duclair, re-sign Mike Reilly
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