Entering mid-August, there appears little indication the Shane Doan free agent watch will end anytime soon.
On Wednesday, the New York Daily News reported Doan’s agent, Terry Bross, acknowledged his client had received a four-year contract offer worth at least $7 million per season from a team outside New York, a hefty deal for a veteran right winger due to turn 36 in October.
Taking Bross at his word, we know the New York Rangers aren’t keen to invest that much time and money in Doan, even though they have the cap space (more than $11.6 million) to do so.
Having previously overpaid defenseman Wade Redden only to bury his $6.5-million cap hit in the minors to free up space, Rangers management is probably leery of making the same mistake with an over-35 player, because that salary can’t come off the books quite so easily if he doesn’t work out as planned.
That doesn’t mean the Rangers are dropping out of the bidding for Doan, but if he decides to join them, it’ll have to be for less than four years and $28 million.
Bross’ comments once again generated speculation over which club - rumored to be from the Eastern Conference - made that offer.
His claim that the offer came from outside New York would also rule out the Islanders. Even if they did make that bid, Doan wouldn’t be interested in going there.
A quick look at the payrolls of the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning rules them out, unless they’re willing to shed salary to free up sufficient cap space.
Given the Flyers’ defensive problems, they’re most likely out of the Doan sweepstakes now.
The Buffalo Sabres, who’ve been fairly quiet this summer, have $8.7 million in cap space, but a new contract for restricted free agent center Tyler Ennis could take up a sizable portion.
They need more experienced skill at center, not on the wings, and have depth in defensemen they could shop as trade bait to address it.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have more than $9 million in cap space, but Doan wouldn’t address their need for a first-line center or an experienced starting goalie and GM Brian Burke won’t saddle himself with that kind of contract on an aging winger.
Two other Canadian teams, the Ottawa Senators and Winnipeg Jets, also have plenty of cap space, but both appear content to build from within with younger and more affordable talent.
The Carolina Hurricanes have more than $12.9 million in cap space, but they’ve already addressed their need for a scoring right winger by signing Alexander Semin. GM Jim Rutherford is expected to turn his focus toward adding more grit to his checking lines.
Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon went on a major spending spree last summer to turn his club into a playoff contender. Having achieved that goal, he’s kept his wallet closed for the most part this summer.
If Tallon does make a major move, it could be trading for Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo rather than chasing another free agent scoring forward.
The New Jersey Devils lost left winger Zach Parise to free agency last month and have the cap space to make a big-money pitch to Doan. Problem is, team owner Jeff Vanderbeek reportedly continues to have financial problems, making their pursuit of Doan unlikely.
That leaves the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.
The Capitals cut ties with Semin, leaving a significant void on the right side heading into this season. Apart from acquiring center Mike Ribeiro via trade, GM George McPhee has been quiet and still has more than $10 million in cap space.
Though the Capitals could use someone like Doan, it’s hard to believe McPhee would invest that much for that long in an over-35 winger.
The Penguins lost out in the bidding for Parise and Rick Nash last month and might be willing to gamble on Doan keeping his numbers up playing alongside Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.
Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently said he didn’t believe the Penguins’ offer for Doan was the highest. Though there’s mutual interest between Doan and Penguins management, Yohe said he’d be surprised if the long-time Coyotes captain signed with Pittsburgh.
For every reason that can be given for one of those Eastern teams to make such an expensive, lengthy bid for Doan, there’s also good reason as to why they shouldn’t or couldn’t. So the guessing game over the identity of the mysterious “outside-New York” Eastern team willing to make that offer continues.
Meanwhile, one Western Conference team remains very interested in Doan, while another has apparently dropped out of the bidding.
Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz informed The Tennessean he has been in contact with Doan for more than a month, claiming his club remains on the short list of the winger’s preferred destinations.
The San Jose Sharks, meanwhile, apparently dropped out after learning the Doan camp was seeking a four-year contract.
And all this speculation will be for nothing if Doan decides to re-sign with the Coyotes.
The latest news out of Arizona claims prospective buyer Greg Jamison has now secured the funding and investors required to purchase the Coyotes from the league. If that’s true, it’s expected Doan will stick with the only NHL franchise he’s played for.
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.