Ever since free agents, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, were officially taken off the market by signing in Minnesota, Doan seems to have taken the center of attention, as far as free agents are concerned. Certainly, as far as the Leafs are concerned, Doan should be the center of attention in Toronto rumours.
Following the epic fallout in the last few months of last season in Leaf Nation, it was clear, among many issues that leadership was the primary cause for concern. Not to name names or point fingers, but where was our captain in that meltdown? It seems to me that if we had any real leadership in the room last season, that someone would have stepped up in the room and on the ice.
This is where the acquisition makes a lot of sense. But of course we are Leafs Nation and aren’t used to having such luck. With reported teams like the Red Wings, Rangers, and Kings in the mix for his services, what could we possibly have to offer? With only around $12 million in cap space and two or three other issues on the roster yet to be addressed, is Brian Burke able to make Doan a realistic offer?
Doan will be the first say that money is of tertiary concern to him and his family. The concerns that will come before the paycheck will be location for his family and a winning environment for his career. This is where locations like the New York and especially Los Angeles make a lot of sense for the Doan family. Los Angeles is in the same division and is the closest sensible team to his current home in Phoenix. Add the winning factor to that conversation and Los Angeles seems to make the most sense.
On the other hand, the Leafs have Brian Burke at the helm. Like him or not, he is one of the most persuasive personalities in hockey. Burke can make the pitch that Doan would have the opportunity to be the immediate cornerstone of the most passionate hockey franchise on the planet. Furthermore, to be the saviour to a team that has fallen short since the lockout. But as the final punch to the pitch, he could say that this team was a playoff team last season until the epic meltdown. And at the core of that meltdown was the lack of leadership and experience.. that Doan was the missing element to the Leafs last season. We were probably a Shane Doan away from the playoffs.
I’ve said it since before the free agency and I’ll say it again, Shane Doan makes the most sense in Toronto. And for the sake of argument, I’ll recycle my old statements and say that we are not in need of a center. That winger support is a greater gap in our lineup. Having said that, what would be some of the repercussions of such an acquisition?
Put yourself in Dion Phaneuf’s shoes. Already under heavy fire for lack-luster performance, the addition of a distinguished and accomplished leader like Doan, and we have a problem. There seemed to have been an animosity between Phaneuf and Schenn.. especially when Burke continued to refer to Luke Schenn as a future Leaf captain and a franchise player. If the Leafs happen to sign Doan, what will become of Phaneuf?
I would not be at all surprised if Burke looks to trade Phaneuf and his mammoth contract for a few other pieces, or maybe a goaltender? I think it would make a lot of sense. Now I know Brian Burke made it clear from Day 1 of the offseason that the Leafs would look to add through trade, but if you step back and expand the drawing board by acquiring Shane Doan, you open a lot more doors for opportunity in the trade market.
I would go to the extent to overpay for a player like Doan. If teams are offering $4 million, I would offer $5 or $6 million. Doan is needed in Toronto more than any other franchise, or city for that matter. And as far as Burke’s employment goes, it shows ownership that he is truly striving for success and giving this city a reason to get excited and a legitimate opportunity to win.
At the end of the day, the addition of Doan and the subtraction of Phaneuf would not only likely unload a couple bucks in contract tie-ups, but would bring in a much needed presence in Toronto plus whatever you get for Phaneuf. This would be my ideal Leaf offseason.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t bank on Burke offering top dollar for any free agent, but it still remains a possibility. And if Burke realizes what this acquisition could do for the franchise and the city, maybe.. just maybe he’ll make the proper effort to acquire Doan’s services.