Shane Doan was drafted seventh overall in the 1995 draft when the Coyotes were still known as the Winnipeg Jets. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Long-time Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan seems to be headed for unrestricted free agency.
It’s believed Doan would like to re-sign with the Coyotes, but is concerned about the lingering uncertainty over their future in Arizona.
GM Don Maloney was hoping the club’s new ownership group (headed by former Sharks executive Greg Jamison) would be in place before July 1 so he wouldn’t have issues re-signing the right winger. Maloney remains optimistic about retaining his captain, but acknowledged Doan will test the market.
The 35-year-old power forward doesn’t have many productive years left, but he’s still respected around the league for his physical style, leadership and offensive consistency. In his 16 NHL seasons, Doan has amassed 20-plus goals and 50-plus points in the same year 10 times, including this past season.
He’s coming off a five-year deal that paid him $4.6 million per year and, given his age, probably won’t land another five-year deal on the open market. The lack of quality depth in this summer’s UFA class, however, will work in his favour and could lead to a pay increase.
Doan may still re-sign with the Coyotes especially if, as Maloney suggested, progress is made on the sale of the franchise to the Jamison group. But Doan isn’t likely to wait long beyond July 1 for a resolution to the ownership situation.
If he decides to move on, it’s expected he’d want to join a Cup contender on a two- or three-year deal.
Over the weekend, Anaheim defense prospect Justin Schultz opted not to sign with the Ducks and became eligible for unrestricted free agency July 1.
The youngest player available on the market, Schultz, who turns 22 on July 6, has attracted considerable interest around the league and is considered a lock to become a quality NHL defenseman.
The Vancouver Province’s Ben Kuzma believed the Canucks would have interest in the West Kelowna, B.C., native. He also listed the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks as potential suitors.
The Red Wings were interested in Schultz, but have dropped out of the bidding amidst rumors he’d prefer to play for a Western Canadian team.
Other clubs that might also get into the bidding include the Philadelphia Flyers and Ottawa Senators.
Schultz is only eligible to receive a two-year, entry-level contract, so where he decides to sign depends on location and the possibility of securing an NHL roster spot next season.
The Canucks, Rangers, Flyers and Blackhawks hope their reputation as Stanley Cup contenders will woo Schultz, while the Oilers and Senators will try to sell him on their promise as up-and-coming teams.
Wherever Schultz signs, he’ll face considerable expectation to play up to the hype, much the same way Blake Wheeler did when he spurned the Coyotes for the Boston Bruins in 2008. Selected fifth overall by Phoenix in the 2004 draft, Wheeler - like Schultz - decided to forego his final season of university and become a UFA.
The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Wheeler showed promise during his two-and-a-half seasons with the Bruins, but struggled to develop into the power forward he was projected to become.
He was dealt to the Atlanta Thrashers late in the 2010-11 season and moved with the club to Winnipeg last summer. His performance significantly improved this past season (a career-best 64-point effort), the result of maturity and experience of four NHL seasons.
Schultz will also face a steep learning curve over the next couple of years.
One Chicago sports columnist isn’t buying into the rumor that the Blackhawks have interest in Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo.
Barry Rozner of the Daily Herald considered the rumors “so absurd” they made him laugh out loud.
Rozner called Luongo a “horribly overpaid netminder” who chokes in pressure situations and doubted the Blackhawks had interest in him.
He added there’s no evidence to suggest the Blackhawks intend to replace current starter Corey Crawford, but if they do, he doubted they would target someone six years older carrying a burdensome contract.
Rozner noted the harsh reception Luongo would receive from Blackhawks fans, especially if he allowed a bad goal. He also doubted the 33-year-old would waive his no-trade clause for Chicago.
His criticism may be harsh, but Rozner made several valid points - playoff inconsistency, contract, age, no-trade clause - as to why the Blackhawks aren’t a likely destination for Luongo.
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.