Which active NHL players might join the likes of Steve Yzerman and Mario Lemieux and play their entire careers with one team?
Shane Doan is an unrestricted free agent at the moment, but in a sense, he’s a free agent in name only. Doan, 39, is about to enter his 21st season in the NHL, and it will be with the Arizona Coyotes.
While he hasn’t signed yet, he said on Saturday that he’s “not going anywhere.” The Coyotes franchise is the only home he’s ever know. He debuted with the Winnipeg Jets in 1995-96 in their final season in Manitoba before moving to the desert and has been there ever since.
Doan will no doubt finish his career with the Coyotes and that would make him part of a dying breed in pro sports — players who played their entire career with one team. On Monday, NBA superstar Kevin Durant announced he was leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder to sign with the Golden State Warriors. Lucrative contracts and salary-cap challenges make it very unlikely any athlete stays in one place forever.
That got us thinking about which active NHL players might join the likes of Steve Yzerman and Mario Lemieux and play their entire careers with one team. Here are 10 that come to mind.
Anze Kopitar, Kings: Drafted and developed by the Kings and he has two Stanley Cup rings already. He’ll be 29 this summer and his eight-year extension with the Kings might just take him to the end of his career.
Patrik Elias, Devils: Elias is a pending free agent, and he’s coming off knee surgery. If he’s done, he’ll have spent his entire 19 season NHL career in New Jersey. If he’s not done, it might just be the Devils who give him one more year.
Daniel & Henrik Sedin, Canucks: The Twins will be 36 years old when next season starts and have two seasons left on their contracts with the Canucks, with no-movement clauses. If they’re not willing to waive that no-move clause and be traded as separate assets they could play out their deals in Vancouver then call it quits.
Patrick Marleau, Sharks: There have been a lot of trade rumors around Marleau, and he only has one year left on his deal. But at almost 37 and coming off a Stanley Cup final appearance, he may want to play out the string with the team that drafted him and gives him as good a shot at a Cup as any.
Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings: His contract with the Red Wings runs until he’s 40 years old and he’s the face of the franchise. It’s hard to imagine him in anything other than the Winged Wheel.
Shane Doan, Coyotes: The veteran presence on an increasingly young Coyotes team. He has only 55 career playoff games to show for his time in Arizona, but he seems content to stay there rather than chase a Cup.
Steven Stamkos, Lightning: He’s only 26 and was just one of the most sought-after free agents ever. If he was going to leave Tampa it seems like last week would have been the time. Instead, he has a new eight-year deal and a chance to win the Cup soon. However, he will probably have one more contract in his career, maybe he bolts for his hometown Maple Leafs in 2024?
Alex Ovechkin, Capitals: He’s the face of the franchise and the best player the Capitals have ever had. He has five years left on his contract which takes him to his age 36 season. He could be a Capitals lifer, or get run out of town if they keep coming up short in the playoffs.
Sidney Crosby, Penguins: He’s on his way to following the Mario model: Be the best player in the league, be a franchise savior, win multiple Stanley Cups, retire a Penguins hero. It’s hard to imagine Crosby playing anywhere but Pittsburgh. But never say never — if Wayne Gretzky can be traded (multiple times), Sidney Crosby can be traded.
Any others? Have your say in the comments.
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