May 15, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; Phoenix Coyotes right wing Shane Doan (19) walks to the locker room after game misconduct for boarding Los Angeles Kings center Trevor Lewis (not pictured) in the second period of game two of the Western Conference finals of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE

Doan To Explore Free Agency This Sunday, Leafs Interested?

Phoenix Coyotes GM confirmed on NHL Live Tuesday that Shane Doan will likely become an Unrestricted Free Agent on July 1.  However, he believes Doan would like to stay in Arizona and that this predicament is directly related to the uncertainty of the future ownership of the team.  This uncertainty could chase the Yotes’ long time captain out of the desert.

“I don’t blame him. We’re all optimistic. If you’re Shane Doan, would you sign?” Maloney said at last Friday’s draft.  Add this uncertainty to the Coyotes’ sour ejection from the Stanley Cup playoffs and you really can’t blame Doan for testing the waters of Free Agency.  In fact, Bill Watters reported via twitter, “Don’t be surprised if both Shane Doan and Brandon Prust become Maple Leafs after July One.  They have been targeted since mid April and fit [the] plan.”  So what would acquiring Doan and Prust do for the Leafs?  Firstly, it would add a much needed dose of size and toughness.  Especially in Doan, he would add just about everything, from scoring and skill, to hitting and intensity.

Watching Doan lead the Coyotes through a shocking run in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs was inspiring.  Of course, Mike Smith’s heroics cannot be overlooked in the effort.  But Doan was, and always has been, the clear-cut leader of his team.  He was even named the 2012 winner of the Mark Messier Leadership Award.  More impressive than his NHL achievements on a struggling franchise, is his achievements for Canada in international hockey.

Doan captained Team Canada  twice and was an alternate captain once and was a major contributor in bringing two gold medals and three silvers to home in World Championships, Winter Olympics, and World Cups from 1999 to 2008.  His international impact in representing the greatest hockey nation on the planet is unquestioned.

With all these credentials, how isn’t this news making bigger headlines in the hockey world?  All the talk seems to be the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter situation.  Especially with Staal off the trade market and opening up room for free agents in Pittsburgh, it’s certainly overshadowed one of our Canadian greats’ possibility of moving.. and possibility of moving to Toronto.  I still expect Brian Burke to send at least a reasonable offer to Parise, him being a great American and captain of the Cup contending Devils, but I think Doan fits the bill in Toronto more so than Parise.

Dec 29, 2011; Denver, CO, USA; Phoenix Coyotes right wing Shane Doan (19) checks Colorado Avalanche defenseman Kyle Quincey (27) in the first period of the game at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Doan is a wrecking ball against any lineup or matchup.  Another star winger in Toronto would take a ton of pressure off of Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul.  Also, with the addition of James van Riemsdyk, Toronto would have a legitimate top two lines in the league.  For this reason, I believe in acquiring top line wingers, rather than centers.

The Leafs have Tim Connolly, Mikhail Grabovski, and Tyler Bozak down the middle.  With those players at center, the addition of a name like Doan in support would definitely steer Toronto in the right direction.  Obviously the Leafs need some juggling on the defensive side, but the inconsistency and inexperience in the forwards last season seemed to trickle down the lineup as the year went on.

More than that, the Leafs lacked the top line, two-way players.  This vacancy is what Shane Doan is.  Doan plays at both ends and with intensity for the full 60 minutes.  And when you add the question mark, that is Phaneuf and his ability to lead by example, Doan seems to be an overwhelmingly popular choice for the Leafs management this summer.  I also believe this would help Phaneuf get back to his old ways and not having bear the responsibility of wearing the ‘C’ in Toronto.

Will the Leafs take a run at Shane Doan?  They better.  In terms of personality, leadership, skill, and intensity.. I mean, what more do you want in a player?  Only time will tell if the Leafs will actually make a run at Shane Doan.  Call me a homer, but a guy like Doan belongs back in Canada.. and in the greatest hockey market on the planet!

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