NHL Free Agency: Where Will Shane Doan Go?

Captain Coyote Shane Doan could be on the move this offseason.

By Rhys Richards (@RREsq)

This free agency season in the NHL is most notable for its lack of big name signings. While the forward and defensive classes were thin going into July 1, the biggest names have taken their time signing contracts.

The Zach Parise and Ryan Suter saga lasted almost four days as the NHL, its teams and fans, and the media waited for a resolution.

The outcome was certainly not what most sports betting sites were predicting it to be.

Once Parise and Suter signed in Minnesota, the predicted surge in free agency was limited to the signing of Matt Carle.

At the beginning of this week, Shane Doan and his agent let it be known that the 35-year-old captain of the Phoenix Coyotes would take offers from other teams. Since then, a few high-risk, high-reward players in Wojtek Wolski and Peter Mueller have signed, but Doan and enigmatic Russian Alexander Semin remain free agents.

Both would be excellent additions to the 2012-2013 Detroit Red Wings, but the team’s brass has focused its attention on Doan.

On Wednesday, Doan’s agent Terry Bross told USA Today that 16 NHL teams had made inquiries into Doan’s services. Four of five of those teams have submitted formal offers. Bross made it clear that he continued to negotiate Doan’s stay in Phoenix too.

Doan has spent his entire career with the Winnipeg Jets turned Phoenix Coyotes. If Greg Jamison’s proposal to buy the team is actually going to happen, Doan will undoubtedly re-sign in Phoenix. That may prove to be the major if that causes Doan to look elsewhere.

Hockey fans will recall the laundry list of potential suitors for the Coyotes, including Jerry Reinsdorf, Matt Hulsizer, and now Jamison. Like the hurdles confronted by the former two by various interest groups and the citizens of Glendale, Jamison faces the possibility of a referendum on the city’s 20-year, $324 million management deal.

According to the Arizona Republic, the deadline for the signatures to petition the referendum was last Monday, but organizers of the petition drive believe they have until this coming Monday.

While some reports have indicated that Doan will delay his decision until Monday, Bross told the Arizona Republic, “There is no relevance to the July 16th date for us. That’s off the table.”

Detroit is believed to be one of the teams Doan would consider as a potential landing spot along with the Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks, Chicago Blackhawks, and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Since the Jets moved to Phoenix for the 1996-1997 season, Doan only played less than 72 games in an NHL season two times. Since 1999-2000, Doan has scored at least 50 points in all but one season and has averaged over 200 shots in every season. Last year, he scored 22 goals and added 28 assists and hit the net 226 times.

Not only does Doan provide experience as a captain and veteran with 55 playoff games under his belt, he also provides some of the grit and truculence many accuse the Red Wings of lacking.

Doan posted 123 penalty minutes in 2005-2006. In the past ten seasons, his lowest penalty total was 41 minutes but earned in excess of 60 penalty minutes six times.

In the past seven seasons, Doan has led the Coyotes in hits four times and finished second or third in hits the other three seasons. Last season, Doan hit opponents 205 times. Since the lockout in 2004-2005, Doan has hit opponents 164, 156, 158, 188, 154, and 172 times, respectively.

To put Doan’s physicality in perspective, now San Jose Shark Brad Stuart led the Red Wings with 177 hits last season. In fact, Doan would have led the Red Wings in five seasons and been near the top in the other two since the lockout.

With the addition of Jordin Tootoo, Detroit has indicated its desire to become more physical, but Doan’s offensive upside makes him a very attractive addition to a team ousted by a bigger Nashville team in the first round of last year’s playoffs.

Detroit general manager Ken Holland accurately summed up the interest in a player like Doan when he told the Detroit Free Press, “30 teams would be interested.”

Detroit is believed to be on Doan’s list of possible destinations. The question remains whether the long-time Coyotes captain has given up on the rollercoaster ride that is Phoenix’s ownership dilemma.

For what the advice of Phoenix fans is worth, Arizona Republic columnist Dan Bickley has advised Doan to run before it’s too late. Bickley closed with the following: “This is your last contract, and greener pastures beckon. Go if you must, even if it means returning in a Red Wings sweater. We’ll understand.”

Statistics and other information obtained at www.nhl.com and www.hockeydb.com.

Share your thoughts about the NHL, the Detroit Red Wings, and hockey in general with Rhys at Twitter: @RREsq.  He can be reached via email at RhysJRichards@gmail.com.  Join the many fans of The Hockey Guys on Facebook and Twitter @TheHockeyGuys

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