With today at 5pm being the deadline for the Ottawa Senators to submit qualifying offers to their upcoming RFA’s, there were inevitably going to be a few players that would not be returning. Jayce Hawryluk and Andreas Englund not receiving offers was fairly pedestrian, but fans of the team were dealt a major shock upon learning that among them was Anthony Duclair.
OTT did not want to risk arbitration. Duclair saw himself as worth more than the Senators' offer.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 7, 2020
The information above comes directly from Pierre Dorion, who spoke to the media this evening, upon the conclusion of the Sens’ 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Duclair will enter the free agent market on Friday.
Had the Senators qualified Duclair, and gone to arbitration, it’s unclear as to what the 25 year-old could have commanded. The Sens held the right to walk away from an arbitration award of $4.5M or higher. The team could, of course, still negotiate a contract with Duclair -Dorion left the door open to the possibility - but they no longer have exclusive negotiating rights.
After a tumultuous start to his career, finding himself on his fourth team in five years, Duclair enjoyed a breakout season during the 2019-2020 campaign. Despite a bitter cold snap to begin the new year, The Duke earned himself an All-Star Game appearance on the back of 23 goals and 17 assists for 40 points in 66 games.
Fans of the team have responded to the decision with disappointment and frustration. Duclair quickly became a fan favourite for his dynamic, high-octane play style, and offensive production.
Dorion has indicated that the team will look to fill roster spots by promoting internally, so it’s possible that fans will see the likes of Alex Formenton, Vitaly Abramov, and/or Logan Brown in a prominent offensive role in the coming season.
Free agency opens on Friday.