If reports are to be believed, Shane Doan is currently seeking a four-year contract worth around $30 million if and when he concludes remaining in Phoenix is no longer a desirable scenario. A deal of that magnitude would call for a salary cap expenditure of $7.5 million annually. Doan will be 36 by the start of the new season which means the cap charge of his new deal will remain on his club’s books for the full duration of the contract assuming the 35+ provision in the current CBA is carried over into any new agreement. The Rangers, one of the many clubs reportedly interested in securing the services of the long-time Coyotes captain, need to consider passing on Doan if his reported asking price is even close to being accurate.
In the interest of full disclosure I have long been a proponent of adding Shane Doan to the Rangers. The first time I offered the suggestion in writing was in a post for another site (a bit of an embarrassing time in my short-lived and not very lucrative writing career) way back in June of 2009. I wrote about trading for him this past deadline here on Ranger Nation and in a piece comparing Doan with former Coyote teammate Ray Whitney for SNYRangersblog, I made the statistical case that Doan would be a better fit than Whitney. I love Doan as a player and think he would be an ideal pickup for this club considering only the impact he would bring on the ice.
To be fair Doan is not the 30-goal, 70-point scoring threat he once was. Today he is more of a 20-goal, 50-point guy but since the Rangers got their big gun in Rick Nash they wouldn’t need Doan to be anything more than what he is, a complimentary offensive contributor who brings a ton of intangibles to the table. In fact it’s those intangibles that make Doan such an attractive target for so many teams.
Doan has been one of the league’s more respected captains and leaders for the last several years. He has played amidst difficult circumstances in Phoenix, knowing the league-owned club could be on the brink of being sold and relocated at virtually any moment yet has helped guide that franchise to the postseason in each of the last three seasons. The Coyotes annually operate with one of the NHL’s lowest payrolls making it difficult to keep proven talent on the roster or to add additional help in-season for the playoff run. Still, the Coyotes made it all the way to the WCF this spring and Doan is a big reason why.
Doan has also represented Canada on the world’s biggest stage as a member of the 2006 Canadian Olympic Men’s Hockey team. He has played for his home country in many other international tournaments as well.
He is a big body that isn’t afraid to throw his weight around. He forechecks aggressively and never takes a night or even a shift off. He is the prototypical John Tortorella player and therefore the perfect New York Ranger.
Imagine, if you will, a top-nine in NYC featuring Doan in the lineup. Here would be the hypothetical top-three lines under that scenario:
Line one – LW Nash, C Richards, RW Doan
Line two – LW Kreider, C Stepan, RW Gaborik
Line three – LW Hagelin, C Boyle, RW Callahan
That lineup has it all; skill, size, speed, hard workers, grit, leadership, etc. I can’t think of a better top-nine in the league right now. This lineup offers the type of depth the Rangers sorely lacked the further into the postseason they traveled this spring. With this group of forwards combined with the perennially exceptional goaltending of Hank and a great young defense corps the Rangers would have to be considered frontrunners to raise the Stanley Cup next June.
So if adding Doan puts the Blue Shirts into that elite company, why in the world would I suggest NOT signing him? After all, even if the price tag is $7.5 million per the Rangers have the cap space to comfortably assume the cost. There seems to be little downside at least in the short term and if the Rangers, with Doan in tow, were to win a Stanley Cup championship in the next couple of seasons, it might be worth it to continue to carry that cap hit even if Doan’s days as a useful NHL player are over before his contract.
On the surface it would seem to be a no-brainer. Even though that potential cap hit is sizable and the club will have several of its own FA’s they will need to re-sign in the coming years, the Rangers will have a ton of cap space coming free in the summer of 2014 with which to do that. The contracts of Marian Gaborik ($7.5 million cap hit), Hank ($6.875 million), Callahan ($4.275 million) and Girardi ($3.325 million) all expire following the 2013-2014 season which would open up roughly $22 million there alone. Of course the Rangers will want to retain most of those guys but might be able to save a little money on Hank’s next deal at least. Conceivably the club would be in position to still comfortably keep Doan’s cap hit around without jeopardizing their ability to re-sign their own; in theory at least.
So, with all of the evidence so far telling us to take the risk and sign Doan, why do I still caution against paying Doan the price he supposedly seeks? Two words come to mind: Chris Drury.
Again, full disclosure here, I was also a proponent of bringing in Chris Drury in the summer of 2007 though I considered the terms of the deal he signed to constitute an overpayment.
The similarities between Drury and Doan are substantial. Like Doan, Drury brought certain intangibles to the table that are hard to quantify in terms of dollar value. He was known as a clutch performer, a hard worker, a fantastic leader who also boasted on his resume tons of international experience playing for his country. He was a key contributor on the 2000-2001 Stanley Cup champion Avalanche squad potting 11 goals in 23 postseason contests that year.
Drury also effectively crushed the Rangers Cup aspirations in the spring of 2007 when scoring the tying goal late in game five of a second-round series tied at two games apiece. Buffalo would go on to win that game in OT and close out the Rangers in six. It looked at the time as if the Rangers were close to seriously competing for a championship and adding a player with the pedigree and history of clutch playoff performances (in some circles, those qualities would be called “intangibles”) that Drury had seemed like the right move at the time.
With the benefit of hindsight we know how well that Drury thing worked in NYC. The first couple of years, Drury was at least useful as he bested the 20-goal and 50-point plateau in each season. Year three was a disaster as Drury slumped to 32 pints in 77 contests. His final NHL season saw the veteran pivot miss 58 games and pot just one (very important mind you) goal before the Rangers bought out the final year of his contract.
That’s what worries me. The Rangers placed a premium on Drury’s intangibles when they agreed to sign him to a five-year contract worth in excess of $7 million per. Sure, he was just coming off a season in which he recorded 37 goals but at age 31 and with just one other 30-goal campaign under his belt it should have been obvious his 2006-2007 goal production was a statistical outlier. The Rangers paid Drury an amount commensurate with being a top-line player but all Drury had ever been in his career was a solid second-line complimentary player with intangibles. What they really bought into was the leadership. They bought into the clutch performances. Probably more importantly they bought into the belief they were close to winning a championship. Sounds like the current situation with the club and their pursuit of Doan.
Maybe if Slats had correctly accessed his club in June of 2007 he would have realized they were more than a Chris Drury addition away from serious contention. Perhaps that would have saved the Rangers from making a costly mistake. As it turned out the Rangers paid Drury a lot of money for his intangibles and probably the only good thing to take away from his tenure on Broadway was his molding of current captain Ryan Callahan.
The Rangers of 2012-2013 are certainly closer to winning a championship than the 2007-2008 squad was but still, the case of Chris Drury should serve as a cautionary tale for Glen Sather. We know Doan is no longer a big time scorer. Basically the team paying for his services will be buying the intangibles. If at the end the club decides to spend that money on Doan they’d better be very, very sure about winning a cup sooner rather than later. Otherwise, just like the Drury signing, there is no chance the deal will end up working out well for the Rangers. But win just one cup with Doan playing a significant role and it will be hard to argue it wasn’t worth it.
Filed Under: Rangers
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