The free agent status of Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan was a dominant headline throughout July and into early August.
For several weeks, Doan fielded offers from other teams while hoping to re-sign with the Coyotes if their long-awaited sale to prospective buyer Greg Jamison was completed this summer.
Of late, however, the flood of news regarding Doan has slowed to a trickle. Even his outspoken agent Terry Bross – who made seemingly daily pronouncements on his client’s status throughout July – hasn’t had much to say.
That silence could be tied to the attempted sale of the Coyotes to Jamison.
Earlier this month, the blog Five For Howling – citing a Coyotes management source, as well as a tweet from Fox 10 News reporter Jude LaCava – suggested the sale to Jamison was completed, with a possible announcement coming close to the opening of the club’s training camp in September.
Coyotes GM Don Maloney, however, told the Arizona Republic he was still awaiting a resolution of the ownership situation, after which he hopes to re-sign Doan.
If the Coyotes are indeed on the verge of being sold to Jamison it would explain why the Doan rumor mill has ground to a halt.
In the meantime, the teams reportedly interested in Doan (among them, the New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators, Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers) await his decision.
Hanging over the Doan sweepstakes were rumors an Eastern Conference team (outside of New York, according to Bross) sent the winger a four-year, $30 million offer.
On Tuesday, ESPN.com’s John Buccigross took to Twitter claiming the offer came from the Buffalo Sabres and was legitimate. He also reported the Coyotes were offering Doan a two-year contract.
Doan has earned considerable respect around the league for his experience, leadership and all-round game, but he’s not worth that kind of money at this stage in his career.
He turns 36 in October, meaning his contract would be governed by the over-35 rule. Should his performance decline over the four-year term of that contract, the Sabres would be stuck with the cap hit, even if he retired, was bought out or demoted.
Doan is coming off a five-year contract during which he earned $4.6 million per season, the most he’s earned per season throughout his long career. A $7.5-million cap hit would put him among the top earners in the league.
Despite the respect Doan enjoys around the league, he doesn’t belong in that company.
That contract would also create potential salary cap headaches for Sabres management.
While they have the cap space ($8.7 million) to pay Doan that hefty salary, it would leave a little more than $1 million to re-sign restricted free agent center Tyler Ennis (who’s coming off an entry level contract), which would put the Sabres over the cap ceiling.
Assuming the salary cap remains at $70.2 million under a new collective bargaining agreement, Sabres management would have little choice but to free up cap space via trade, demoting a player to the minors or loaning one overseas.
If the cap ceiling drops in the next CBA without a significant rollback in player salaries, the Sabres might be forced to shed considerably more salary, perhaps by moving a high-salaried player they might otherwise prefer to retain.
Despite that significant offer, it doesn’t appear Doan is interested in Buffalo. Still, making such a big-money pitch to him only serves to stoke criticism of irresponsible spending in the midst of CBA negotiations.
Rumor Roundup appears Monday-Friday only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News, Kukla's Korner and The Guardian, Charlottetown.