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Resurgent Duclair Skating His Way Out of San Jose?



Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

Anthony Duclair has looked reinvigorated ever since the San Jose Sharks returned from their All-Star break on Feb. 14.

He has a pair of goals — both scored against Columbus on Feb. 17 — in five games — but his improvement on the ice goes far beyond that.

“I’m playing with confidence, I’m moving my feet, my lungs feel great. I’m getting more chances, obviously, and that definitely helps the confidence as well,” he told San Jose Hockey Now.

Per SPORTLOGiQ, before the break, Duclair averaged 1.04 Quality Chances Per Game. Since the break, small sample size of five games, Duclair has more than doubled that with 2.4 Quality Chances Per Game.

Duclair credits the Sharks’ All-Star and bye week breaks for helping him refresh.

“It was good to reset mentally and physically and I feel much better than I did in the first half,” he said. “That break really helped me mentally and I feel like a new player.”

The mental aspect has been a big adjustment for Duclair, who was traded to the cellar-dwelling Sharks fresh off the Florida Panthers’ run to the Stanley Cup Final last summer.

“Mentally, losing got to my head a little bit,” Duclair said. “Obviously for everyone here, everyone’s a competitor, we want to win and everybody wants to do their best and pick up as many team points as possible. But, obviously, that has not been the case.”

The Sharks are tied with the Chicago Blackhawks with an NHL-low 35 points.

“So, I think it’s been really tough mentally for me with all this losing, but the break has definitely helped me think about other things for a little bit and it was much needed,” he said. “I’m just trying to enjoy every day.”

Before, maybe Duclair was trying to do too much.

“It’s not easy to step into our situation,” San Jose Sharks coach David Quinn said. “He’s gonna be a free agent, we got off to a tough start, we’re in the situation we’re in — it all plays a role.”

The Sharks started off 0-10-1 and also had a 12-game losing streak in the middle of the season.

“He has done a really good job pulling it together, and he’s always had great moments, but I think he’s been much more consistent in the player that we all know he’s capable of being and I give him a ton of credit. It’s not easy to do,” Quinn said. “He wants to do well, he’s a great guy, a great teammate, and I think he put a lot of onus on himself to help us get out of it. And sometimes, that’s the worst thing you can do.”

Duclair agreed: “Obviously, when you’re losing so much, it’s human nature. You’re down on yourself, you think you can do more, you’re trying to do too much and sometimes that hurts you and it hurts the team.

“That was one of the biggest battles that I’ve faced all year, and especially coming from the Finals last year, it’s obviously a big stretch, but I’m just trying to find a way to be a good leader, be a good teammate, and try not to dwell on the past and always focus on the future.”

The time away from the rink helped Duclair get his mind off of the losing and re-focus his energy on what he could do better.

“We’ve had plenty of conversations and I’m sure he was tired of talking to me, so sometimes, you just gotta let the player figure it out,” Quinn said. “He’s been around long enough that he didn’t need us to give him the roadmap.”

Speaking of the future, the pending UFA has been at the center of trade rumors all season. That might be a distraction for some players, but Duclair says he’s used to it.

After all, he has been traded four times in his career.

The self-represented Duclair says he hasn’t really discussed his future with GM Mike Grier just yet, but the writing could be on the wall there.

The speedy winger is in demand, and there isn’t any indication that the Sharks will sign him to an extension.

SJHN Daily: Duclair, Granlund Top Sharks on TSN’s Trade Bait Board

“I’ve been through it,” Duclair said. “I’ve been in situations where I’d be like ‘Really? I’m in trade rumors?’ And I’ve had years where I’m like ‘Yeah, OK. I’m in trade rumors and I’m probably getting dealt.’

“It’s part of the game, and for me, I just want to be a good teammate and a good leader for the time being and we will see what happens.”

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