A big NHL free-agent domino is expected to finally fall.
While several suitors, including the Vancouver Canucks, have patiently waited while Shane Doan hopes the Phoenix Coyotes ownership picture can be resolved so the club's long-serving captain can remain in the desert, his agent Terry Bross has changed the timeline.
A looming Sept. 15 lockout could create uncertainty how long-term contracts of players 35 and older will be affected. Under the current collective bargaining agreement, multi-year deals to those players count against the salary cap in the second year, even if a player is inactive. Hence a deadline, finally.
"[It has to] be done before the 15th, otherwise we're signing somewhere because we don't know what the new CBA is going to look like and I don't know if it's going to limit any scope of a contract," Bross told the Arizona Republic. "We want to make sure we sign before then. I guess in that respect, time is ticking."
While prospective Coyotes owner Greg Jamison has been searching for an additional US$20 million to complete the Coyotes purchase, as many as 16 teams have shown interest in Doan. The biggest offer has been a four-year, $30 million contract from the Buffalo Sabres - one the New York Rangers have said they will match and one the Philadelphia Flyers must be wary of - but the Canucks are counting on the right playing environment and Doan's provincial ties to help sway the durable 35-year-old winger.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators are also among the top pursuers but Doan has only visited with the Rangers, Flyers and Canucks.
The Canucks have made an offer and it's not a stretch to suggest that the $6.1-million cap hit for Henrik and Daniel Sedin is the bar. If so, the Canucks would have to hope that other factors - a cosmopolitan city to raise his four children, a competitive club and proximity to Kamloops where Doan honed his junior hockey skills, met his wife and became part owner of the WHL Blazers - in the end are more important than more money.
Doan's durability, leadership and ability to raise his game in the post-season are coveted by the Canucks who lack a true power forward.
Although he turns 36 in October, Doan has missed just 15 games the last five seasons and is coming off 22 goals and 50 points last season. There is risk in a player of that age staying on the books if he retires before a multi-year deal expires, but Doan isn't wired that way and could probably play into his late 30s.
It would also help resolve the Canucks' ongoing search for another top-six forward and would offer flexibility if such a deal came to fruition. If could allow Alex Burrows, who's in talks regarding a contract extension, to play on the second line if coach Alain Vigneault believes Doan would bring a needed grit and skill element to the top line.
It would allow for a different return on an eventual Roberto Luongo trade - perhaps needed youth and depth - if the Canucks believe that UFA centre Jason Arnott, 37, might be a good one-year fit on the third line and can eat up second-line minutes until Ryan Kesler returns from off-season shoulder and wrist surgeries.
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