Anthony Duclair is just 22 years old, has a 20-goal season under his belt and can skate with just about anybody in the NHL. But he’ll be on his fourth NHL team in the fall.
In a mild surprise, the Blackhawks decided not to tender Duclair a qualifying offer. That means the restricted free agent will become an unrestricted free agent Sunday, free to sign anywhere.
A qualifying offer would have cost the Hawks about $1.5 million, and with young players such as Dylan Sikura, Victor Ejdsell and Dominik Kahun expected to leapfrog Duclair on the organizational depth chart in the fall, there apparently wasn’t room for him at that price.
In theory, Duclair could come back at a cheaper price. But with his speed and the potential he has been chasing since his
20-goal season as a rookie in 2015-16, he’s likely to find plenty of suitors, even though the Hawks were unable to trade his negotiating rights.
Duclair had two goals and six assists in 23 games after the Hawks acquired him from the Coyotes for fellow winger Richard Panik. He missed the last month of the season with a leg injury.
Unlike many teams, the Hawks don’t make such decisions public. But it’s thought that their three other restricted free agents — winger Tomas Jurco, newly acquired center Michael Chaput and minor-league defenseman Adam Clendening — also were allowed to become unrestricted free agents.
Jurco had six goals and four assists in 29 games last season and had hoped to return.
‘‘For sure, I would like to stay here,’’ he said in late March. ‘‘I like the system. The city’s great, everything around the hockey is great, the people are great. There’s really not a reason for me to not want to come back.’’
The Hawks aren’t among the teams visiting with prized center John Tavares — an unrestricted free agent — this week in Los Angeles, but they hope to add a scorer, a defenseman and a goalie in free agency or by trade. By letting Duclair, Jurco, Chaput and Clendening walk, they open up contract spots in the organization.
Meanwhile, center Artem Anisimov by Sunday must submit a list of 10 teams to which he’d be willing to be traded. That’s when his no-movement clause becomes a modified no-trade clause. If the Hawks are looking to add a couple of high-price pieces, then Anisimov — who lost the second-line center job to Nick Schmaltz but still carries a $4.55 million cap hit over the next three years — might become expendable.
‘‘I do not believe [general manager] Stan [Bowman] wants to trade Artem, but he might do so if it is in the long-term interests of the Hawks,’’ Todd Diamond, Anisimov’s agent, said Monday.