The Canucks have more than a passing interest in pursuing free agent forward Shane Doan.
Unfortunately for them, they're not alone.
Eleven teams are said to be making a push for the 35-year-old, chasing his skill, edge and that laundry list of intangibles. But in making the media rounds Monday, Doan's agent, Terry Bross, told reporters only 2-3 teams would warrant serious interest. He said location, management, players and Cup chances will all be factors.,
The Canucks got in line early, putting in a personal call to Doan on July 1, to express their interest. The feeling was mutual Doan told them, which would logically put the Canucks among those 2-3 teams. The sides touched base again on Monday, Doan's personalized start to free agency when his agent, Bross, officially started taking calls.
And you can understand it from both sides. The Canucks need to go all-in now to try to win a Stanley Cup. Doan is the type of player they've longed for. He's a legit power forward and a heavy forechecker, who would give their lineup size and toughness, a void exposed in both the Stanley Cup final and this year's first round.
This is a team that's been trying to sell Ryan Kesler and David Booth as its power forwards, so there's a fairly substantial need to change the dynamic. Something that became more pressing in the second half of this past season when the way the game was called obviously changed.
The Canucks need to get bigger. It's why they went out and got Zack Kassian. It's why they drafted nothing but size in Pittsburgh. But these lineup fixes are going to take years to have an impact. Doan, a durable 230-pound top-six, two-way winger good for 20 goals, bridges that gap. He would make what is still a small, skilled lineup and make it much tougher to play against.
From Doan's perspective, there's more here than just a team with a chance to win. He has roots in British Columbia. His wife, Andrea, is from Kamloops. He met her there while playing junior hockey. He still spends time in Kamploops during the offseason, even hosting a charity golf tournament. He's part owner of the WHL, the Kamloops Blazers.
All of it would be a nice story, but even though the Canucks have lots of checkmarks beside Doan's "factors," it's still unclear whether it will matter when his agent starts fielding actual offers, which is expected to happen as soon as tomorrow.
With so many teams interested, and some of them desperate, it's not unthinkable that Doan, coming off an improbable playoff run, could get options four or five years long, in the $5 million-to-$6 million per year range.
Will that change those factors?
Whether he's worth, that type of financial commitment is a fair debate. His 50 points this season were his lowest in a decade. He did follow that up with an impressive post-season, and has scored nine goals in his past 23 playoff games. For comparison, Kesler has 10 in 53 games.
Will the Canucks offer more than 2-3 years for a player who will turn 36 in October? When Sami Salo signed in Tampa Bay, GM Mike Gillis expressed a reluctance to commit multi-year contracts to players who are 35 and older. There's too much risk, Gillis explained. If, for example the player retires his cap hit still counts.
But it's absurd to compare Salo to Doan, who has just missed a handful of games in the past three years because of injuries.
On Monday, Bross, Doan's agent, took calls to survey the field. It includes some powerhouses, like the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, L.A Kings and Detroit Red Wings, who have already struck out a couple of times since the season ended.
The Canucks may have an ace up their sleeve. At least, they have a pretty good in. Laurence Gilman, the Canucks assistant general manager, has a personal relationship with Doan established during his 13 years with the Phoenix Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets organization.
"I've known Shane since he was 19 years old and I have a lot of respect for him," Gilman said. "We've definitely stayed in touch over the years."
If that relationship does end up helping the Canucks sign Doan, they will be facing another daunting question.
Where will Mason Raymond play?