Anthony Duclair has been around the NHL enough to know he had it pretty good with the Florida Panthers.
Only 25-years-old, Duclair had already played for five teams when he landed with the Panthers just before the 2021 season was set to open.
It was a “prove-it” contract — a one-year pact to see how things would work out.
Duclair, who scored 23 goals and earned his first All-Star appearance the season before with Ottawa, was obviously looking for a better deal than what he settled on with the Panthers after the Senators decided not to make him a qualifying offer and allowing him to hit the open market.
Bill Zito and Duclair got to know each other a little bit in the short time Duclair played for the Columbus Blue Jackets. When Duclair became a free agent last year, he and Zito talked. A lot.
Duclair had let his agent go and was representing himself. He wanted to hear firsthand what teams thought of him as he went through the negotiating process.
Some of those conversations with the new GM of the Panthers had nothing to do with hockey. The two seemed to get along quite well and, eventually came to an agreement on the one-year contract.
Although Duclair did not match the kind of numbers he put up his final season in Ottawa, his production was in many cases better.