Anthony Duclair, Florida Panthers, San Jose Sharks

Grading the Sharks’ Trade for Anthony Duclair from the Panthers

The Florida Panthers needed to clear out some cap space on the first day of free agency and to do that, they were going to have to give up an impactful asset to do so. Anthony Duclair, who was a bit of a journeyman in his younger years, finally settled in and truly broke out with the Panthers and is entering his final year of a three-year contract worst an average annual value (AAV) of $3 million.

Anthony Duclair Florida Panthers
Anthony Duclair with the Florida Panthers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The San Jose Sharks have sent Steven Lorentz and a 2025 fifth-round pick to the Panthers in exchange for the winger. While this isn’t near the value Duclair is worth, the cost of clearing salary has gone up substantially with the flat cap era of the NHL. The Sharks are not only taking on salary, but they get a really good player on a very good contract.

Related: THW’s Free Agency Tracker

Duclair had missed a lot of time with injury after suffering an off-season injury to his Achilles, and only returned for 20 regular season games, posting two goals and nine points, and another four goals and 11 points in 20 postseason games. Duclair struggled to get back into the swing of things late into the season but had a fantastic 58-point season in 2021-22 with the Panthers.

Panthers Get Their Cap Space

After making the Stanley Cup Final, the Panthers knew they would have some tough decisions to make as they were already over the salary cap before making this deal and now have just over $2.5 million in cap space. They are expecting to be missing some key pieces to start the year, as Brandon Montour, and potentially Aaron Ekblad will be out for the first few weeks. Their cap trouble already cost them the ability to re-sign Radko Gudas, as he signed a big deal with the Anaheim Ducks in free agency.

Radko Gudas Florida Panthers
Radko Gudas with the Florida Panthers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Duclair is certainly a notable loss, but with wingers like Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Reinhart and Carter Verhaeghe in the lineup it is easier to let go. The Panthers have great forward depth that was on display in the playoffs, but they may look to make more trades to try and find someone to fill the hole Duclair left at a cheaper price and move out more money. The issue with that is their lack of draft picks. Acquiring a fifth-round pick doesn’t seem like much, but the Panthers are already missing two first-round picks and a second-rounder over the next two drafts. At this point, every pick counts.

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Getting Lorentz back is also notable. He was acquired by the Sharks in the Brent Burns trade and played the full year in the NHL, recording 19 points. He is a dependable fourth-liner and will be utilized by the Panthers well. While they made out as well as they could, it is hard to be on the winning end of clearing a quality player as a cap dump.

Trade Grade: C

Sharks Acquire Quality Winger in Duclair

Duclair will join the Sharks at a very affordable price and will become one of the team’s top forwards. He will be a great role model for any of the young forwards that make the team, which could be a fair amount given the state of the Sharks’ rebuild.

Tomas Hertl San Jose Sharks
Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Players like Duclair, who is only 27 and will be joining his seventh NHL team, know what it takes to make an impact. He can be a useful asset not only on the ice but in the locker room too. Duclair is poised for a strong year as he will be playing at the top of the lineup and will likely have good linemates in Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture. General manager Mike Grier decided to take advantage of the Panthers’ situation and make a brilliant deal here.

Trade Grade: A

Both teams got what they needed out of this deal. Cap space for Florida and a productive winger for the Sharks. Their season still has a lot of question marks on how it will end up, but this is a good step for the Sharks to take that next step, but if they are still at the bottom of the league at the next trade deadline, Duclair will be a very valuable asset to a contending team.

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