If all of our accrued information is correct, today is the day we may get a sense of where one Shane Doan may want to sign.
Of current active NHLers with over 1100 games, only Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla and, if Daniel Alfredsson is still active going into next season, Daniel Alfredsson have done it with a single team. At some point in the mid-1990s, free agency went from being a fun idea to a new reality, and for the next 15 years, player movement was common and expected.
But not for Doan. Doan is a vintage star, a community-minded man, who is thrust in the middle of a partisan war for the city of Glendale. He came to Phoenix when the original Winnipeg Jets moved in 1996 and never looked back, never once facing this uncertainty he does now as an unrestricted free agent.
Even then, the only thing that makes a Doan free agency possible is that he’s caught in the middle of partisan bickering, which makes his future with the team suspect. This is disappointing, since you have to think that Doan would love to retire with the Coyotes, and you have to think that last year’s run to the Western Conference Finals was the best chance that Doan had to win with the Coyotes.
Doan’s value was covered in an excellent column by Paola Bolvin in the Arizona Republic, simply titled “Doan deserves better ending to free agency”:
That isn’t the lament of a homer sportswriter. It is the reaction of a journalist who has spent several decades covering the games people play and knows how unique Doan is. Rarely does an athlete come along who spends his entire career with one organization and in the process serves as leader, scorer, mentor, promoter.
Yet his 16-year stay in Arizona is at risk of ending because of an ownership mess that appears to be growing more complicated by the minute. And it’s not just the Kings who appear to have interest in Doan. Eleven teams have inquired about the player, his agent, Terry Bross, said Friday. New York, Detroit and Montreal are among the group, according to various reports.
Doan deserves better. [AZ Republic]
Due to Doan’s lifetime in the desert, a lot of fans, particularly in Eastern Canada, may have an inflated version of what Shane Doan really is. He’s not a superstar player, and never was. In a 16-year career, Doan cracked the 30-goal barrier twice, and has never been a point-a-game player, his closest foray in 2008 when he scored 78 points in 80 games.
The true mark of Doan is his consistency. While many scorers peak in their early-to-mid-20s, Doan never had much of his modest offensive success in that span, but since his 23-year old season in 2000, Doan has cracked the 50 points barrier 11 of 12 times, his one failure in 2002 when he recorded just 49 points. More impressively, he’s scored 20-or-more goals ever year but 2010, when he scored just 18.
He’s still a player who grinds out the tough minutes. At 6’1″, 230 lbs, Doan is a player who draws tough match ups, particularly when he was seen in Phoenix for so many years as their lone offensive threat. His quality of competition metrics have always been above the league average in the regular season, which makes him a trusted player on a Dave Tippett bench. Tippett is a coach who prefers to exploit match ups rather than match players up to favourable zone starts.
His possession numbers aren’t amazing, but they’ve been consistently good since 2007. His Relative Corsi on a season has never dipped below 2.4 per 60 minutes, but never above 6.8, either. He unimpressively gets the job done, but he doesn’t necessarily do the job of a star, just the job of a meticulous veteran.
Doan will indubitably draw some interest from some teams if he doesn’t want to return to the uncertainty of Phoenix, but he shouldn’t be the main attraction for any club. The Arizona Republic piece names the New York Sathers (duh), Detroit and Montreal among interested teams. There could be worse landing spots, but these teams need to recognize Doan’s limitations. He can give you a few tough minutes and a few goals, but he can’t be the number one threat for a team at age 36. He needs an excellent supporting cast around him.
The logical destination may be Los Angeles, on the heels of one Stanley Cup victory and ready to re-load for a second. The Kings have a sufficient Top Six to shelter Doan and mask any scoring woes. Vancouver has a need for wingers, and Doan has already played championship-level hockey with a British Columbia team, winning a Memorial Cup with the Kamloops Blazers back in 1995.
We’ll see if the rumours about Doan willing to test the market are true. He doesn’t seem like the player to cash out for a big payday at the end of his career. His contract, if more than a couple of years, would be risky since it would qualify as a 35+ deal under the current collective bargaining agreement. Without knowing how those deals would be treated in the next CBA, erring on the side of safety may be the right move for teams, but if there are really many interested parties, he may go to the team that offers him most stability.
Finally, he also can’t be the Shane Doan that we saw in the Western Conference Finals. While Doan scored a pair of goals in Phoenix’s lone win, one of the story lines in that series was a few cheap hits, notably one by Doan in Game 2 on Trevor Lewis that wasn’t suspended and brought to light that Doan comes with a bit of a dirty streak attached.
Bottom-line. He’s a good pickup, but will probably settle into more of a depth role. If these teams are looking for game breakers, Alexander Semin may be the better option.