Here we are, August 6th, 2012, and Shane Doan is still a free agent. With nearly every other big name unrestricted free agent off the market, Doan is clearly the crown jewel of the NHL UFA’s still available. Doan has been waiting for a resolution on the Phoenix ownership situation, but as we know the Coyotes ownership situation is the story that doesn’t end.
While I don’t doubt that Shane Doan would prefer to stay in Phoenix, at 36-years old, he might be looking for long-term security, too. At this point, does anyone believe that Phoenix can offer that type of security? I think that even someone as loyal as Doan should be having doubts, and rumors are swirling that Shane Doan has narrowed down his list of possible destinations to three teams: the Pittsburgh Penguins, the New York Rangers, and the Vancouver Canucks. I believe that Vancouver is the team that has the most to gain by adding Doan, and that the city is the best landing spot for him.
There is little doubt as to who the leaders and best two players are on the Canucks. The Sedin twins are undoubtedly amongst the best players in the NHL. However, they will also turn 32-years old before the start of next season. The prime of their careers is winding down. Sure they will still be good players for more than a few years, but we must ask how much longer they will be at their absolute best. If the Canucks are going to continue to rely on the twins, the time to win with them is right here, right now.
The Canucks team, and the Sedins specifically, have long been criticized for their lack of toughness and for what has been perceived as poor playoff performances. Personally I think these criticisms are unfair. The twins have put up impressive numbers in the playoffs; Daniel has 46 points in his last 49 playoff games while Henrik has 51 points in his last 52 games. Would anyone argue that a point-per-game isn’t enough offence in the playoffs? As for the toughness argument, they are point producers. The list of skilled offensive players who don’t drop the gloves often is long and filled with the greatest names in the history of the sport. Quite simply it isn’t their job to be pugilists. I’ve never seen the twins shy away from playing in the corners or getting to the front of the net. Their offensive game is based on puck-control and playing the best cycle game in the NHL. They control the puck down low and the twins are not afraid to get into dirty areas and take the abuse that comes with it.
Now let’s turn our attention to Doan. As a RW there is an opening for him to play with the twins. His game is that of a pure power forward; he is a strong force on the boards and in front of the net. He’s also a pure goal scorer. In many ways his talents would fit like a glove with Daniel and Henrik. Meanwhile, he would be the tough, physically punishing player that the Sedin line has lacked. He would be able to play bodyguard for the twins while not sacrificing at all in the skill department. Doan is gritty, a warrior, and above all he is a leader. Doan is the type of heart and soul player who could inspire the Canucks when they need it most, bringing them the last piece to get over the hump.
So where does this leave Alex Burrows? As the regular linemate of the Sedins and a player who has had great success with them, wouldn’t bumping him out of that spot be a problem? No. Burrows also has chemistry with Ryan Kesler. He could seamlessly move into the second line and create a dynamic two-way duo with Kesler. This line would be amongst the best shutdown lines in the NHL, and would also provide offence at the other end of the rink. Win-win, right?
And what Doan’s needs? How is Vancouver the best fit? Well, Doan will be 36-years old before the start of next season. He is clearly on the downside of his career. This season he made it to the conference finals for the first time in his career. At his age, its unclear how many good years he has left. If he is going to win the Stanley Cup before he retires, it’s time to play for a contender now. Who better than the Canucks, a team that has won their division three straight years, and the defending back-to-back President’s trophy winners? In each of the last three years the Canucks have lost to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions. They are close, and have been able to keep their core together. Playing in the Northwest division, the Canucks should continue to dominate for the immediate future. Meanwhile the Penguins and Rangers will be involved in the 4-way war that is the Atlantic Division. The gruelling battles in that division, and the number of other contenders there, make emerging from that hell-hole a tougher proposition, and advancing to the Finals very difficult. Quite simply the Canucks would provide Doan the best chance to win, and win now.
So what needs to happen for this union to take place? The Canucks must clear room for Doan. They currently have less than $2.5 million in cap space, and I think it’s safe to say that more space will be needed to sign Shane Doan. The simplest way would be to move Roberto Luongo to create that room. Replacing Luongo with a much cheaper backup to Corey Schneider would create the space necessary to sign Shane Doan.
This move just makes too much sense for all the parties involved, so of course, I predict it won’t happen…. even though it should.
Feel free to leave your comments below and follow me on twitter @LastWordBkerr