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Coyotes hope Duclair trade can trigger reversal of fortunes

Arizona Coyotes left wing Anthony Duclair (10) skates away from Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin (8) and Kris Letang (58) in the second period during an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Dec 16, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Coyotes hope a trade is just what they need to turn around their worst season start in team history.

Forward Anthony Duclair and defenseman Adam Clendening were traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for forwards Richard Panik and Laurent Dauphin, general manager John Chayka said Wednesday.

“It was a long process,” Chayka said. “We went through a lot of different approaches, a lot of different things through two different staffs here, and at the end of the day just felt that from both sides it was best to move on.”

The Coyotes are excited to reacquire Dauphin, Chayka said, who will start in Tucson with the AHL team. Dauphin was drafted by Arizona in 2013 but traded to Chicago at the 2017 NHL Draft.

“Last year he played up for us a little bit,” Chayka said. “We thought he’d be an effective player, but didn’t have the offense production. He went down in Tucson last year.”

The 22-year-old Dauphin had 28 points in 38 games with the Tucson Roadrunners last season. This season, Dauphin has only recorded 14 points in 33 games with the Rockford IceHogs.

“He hasn’t had quite the start he’d like to in Rockford, but we’re excited to get him back in Tucson, get him playing the way we know he can,” Chayka said. “We expect that he can be a player that can fill in for us when needed but certainly believe that he’s still a young player that has some strengths and believe in the upside of the player.”

As for Panik, 26, the Coyotes are hopeful. Chayka sees him as a well-rounded, young veteran player who will fit in perfectly with the team.

“The environment and the culture we’re trying to create and the approach we had, we felt Richard is a real good fit for that,” Chayka said. “Richard’s been able to play up against top players and have some success, so that’s a void we were looking to fill and felt that he would be a good fit for us.”

Panik’s shooting percentage has been down this season, but Chayka expects it to bounce back. He had a solid start to the season with goals, but quickly hit a slump. In 37 games with the Blackhawks this season, Panik put up six goals and 10 assists.

“It took me a longer time than I expected to get out of it and I think that’s what cost me the job here,” Panik said.

Hearing the news at the rink, Panik said he didn’t expect to be traded but is excited to join a young team in Arizona.

“I think they were not happy with my performance and it is how it is,” Panik said. “I’m looking forward to playing for Arizona and just excited to be there.”

Panik was acquired by Chicago in January 2016. Upon his arrival in Arizona, he will rejoin former Blackhawk teammate Niklas Hjalmarsson, who was part of the trade in 2017 which originally brought Dauphin to Chicago.

“This was by far the best deal we came across in a long period of time,” Chayka said, adding “we felt it was right for both sides to move forward.”

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