Could Shane Doan be a trade deadline target if the Coyotes falter?

7 Comments

The Phoenix Coyotes have had a lot of ups and downs over the last decade or so, whether it’s been on the ice (missing the playoffs in seven of the last eight seasons before Dave Tippett took over) or with their well-publicized ownership issues.The one constant has been power forward Shane Doan, often a standout player who’s been a member of the franchise since their last season in Winnipeg and has ranked as one of the league’s most respected leaders since he became their captain in 2003-04. It’s likely that he’ll cross the 300 goal mark with the only team he’s ever played for next season.

All of that sentimentality aside, the sad reality of sports is that even the best relationships must come to an end at some point. There’s no denying the loyalty of the 34-year-old Canadian winger, but with the franchise’s future in Arizona in doubt and Doan’s own contract ready to expire after the 2011-12 season, it’s reasonable to wonder if he might be a popular trade target if the Coyotes struggle without Ilya Bryzgalov in net.

That’s the idea that ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers brought up in a mailbag a few days ago and Lyle Richardson elaborated upon tonight. Before I get into my own thoughts on a possible Doan trade, here’s what Spector had to say about the concept.

Doan might be available if the Coyotes are out of playoff contention by the trade deadline, but it’s not a certainty.

A recent report in USA Today noted Coyotes GM Don Maloney wanted to meet with Doan prior to training camp to discuss a new contract.

(snip)

Doan has been very loyal to the Coyotes franchise dating back to his time in Winnipeg, so it shouldn’t be assumed he’s keen to test next summer’s UFA market.

Still, if Doan decides to wait until the end of the season to talk contract, or it appears the Coyotes are headed to another city following the season and they fall out of playoff contention by February, rumors of a deadline trade to a Cup contender – such as the Blackhawks – will run rampant.

Again, Doan has been very loyal to the Coyotes and could very well sign a contract extension before the trade deadline comes around. Still, let’s take a quick look at which teams might want to keep Doan on their radars.

Note: Doan registers a $4.5 million salary cap hit, but that amount would be greatly reduced around trade deadline time. Still, cap space will be given at least some consideration in this discussion.

source: Getty ImagesChicago (current cap space: $3.04 million): Rogers mentions Doan as a good fit for the Blackhawks, which makes sense since his rugged play and experience would be worthwhile if Chicago finds themselves in another grudge match against the Vancouver Canucks. That being said, they probably need a pure No. 2 center more than anything else.

Vancouver ($2.53M): Speaking of the Canucks, they could really use a top-six forward and Doan would make an already agitating team that much tougher to play against. How many teams would want to deal with Doan, Ryan Kesler, Maxim Lapierre and Alexandre Burrows in a best of seven series?

Detroit ($5.85M): Red Wings fans learned to hate Doan in their last two first round series, but if Detroit wanted to go all-in during what could be Nicklas Lidstrom’s final season, Doan would give them a physical presence – not to mention a right-handed shot.

Boston ($7.62M): The Bruins have a pretty deep set of forwards, but they also have a ton of cap space and might want a little more scoring variety with hot-and-cold winger Michael Ryder out of the picture. Doan would make the Bruins bigger and badder by bolstering a beefy group that already includes Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton.

Los Angeles ($9.34M): Obviously, the Kings won’t have nearly the same amount of cap space after they sign Drew Doughty, but they still should have some money left over during deadline time. Doan seems like an ideal fit for the way Los Angeles does business, although the Coyotes would cringe at the idea of trading their hero to a divisional foe.

Nashville ($15.88M): His full season price tag might be a bit much for the Predators, but adding an impact forward like Doan at the trade deadline might show Nashville’s Big 3 that they’re serious about contending.

***

Honestly, the previous list is just a small sampling of the teams who should keep an eye on Doan. In an ideal world, he’ll stick with the Coyotes until he hangs up his skates, but you cannot blame fans of other teams for imagining how he’d fit in as a rental player.

Ryan O’Reilly comments on Sidney Crosby spearing incident: ‘It happens’

1 Comment

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has made some headlines this week for a couple of stick infractions that were overlooked by the on-ice officials during his games.

They were not overlooked by everybody else.

On Thursday, he caught Marc Methot with a slash to the hand that ended up busting the defenseman’s finger on a play that made Senators owner Eugene Melnyk go berserk on Ottawa radio the next day. On its own it would have been an incident that received a ton of attention, if for no other reason than the gruesome image of Methot’s finger dangling around. But what added to it was the fact that two days before that incident there was the spearing incident involving Buffalo Sabres forward Ryan O'Reilly that you see in the video above.

On Saturday, O’Reilly was asked for his thoughts on the play after everything that has happened with Crosby over the past couple of games.  He does not seem to have any hard feelings regarding the play, via TSN’s Mark Masters:

“It was a weird thing,” said O’Reilly. “You know, it happens. I didn’t expect it and he apologized after the play and it was understood. It just threw me off. I wasn’t expecting anything and then something happens, but he’s a good guy and he is just playing hard and he takes a beating every night too so it happens.”

He was then asked if he knew who initially hit him, and O’Reilly said he did not until Crosby apologized later in the game.

“No, I didn’t,” said O’Reilly. I was watching the puck and the next thing I know I had a stick right to the crotch and it threw me off for sure. I got up slowly and turned around to see who it was, and then off the won faceoff he comes up as we’re skating down the ice and says, ‘yeah, sorry about that, I was kind of going for your stick.’ I go, ‘meh, it happens, I guess. Would’ve been nice to have a penalty, but it happens.”

Crosby was not penalized for either play and received no supplemental discipline from the league. The latter part is not a surprise, and it is not because of some sort of preferential treatment from the league. Since the NHL’s department of player safety has been put into place it has never suspended a player for spearing (it has fined seven players) and suspended only two players for slashing (it has fined six).

Bruins will not have Tuukka Rask for massive game against Islanders tonight

Getty
3 Comments

Massive game in Brooklyn on Saturday night when the New York Islanders will be hosting the Boston Bruins in a key game in the Eastern Conference wild card race.

The day is already off to a bad start for the Bruins, losers of four in a row, when coach Bruce Cassidy announced that starting goaltender Tuukka Rask did not make the trip with the team and will not be available for the game. Anthon Khudobin will get the start in his place, while Zane McIntyre has been recalled from the American Hockey League on an emergency basis.

Cassidy said that Rask is dealing with a lower body injury and is considered day-to-day.

Rask did not practice with the team on Friday.

It is a massive game as both teams enter the night tied in the standings with 82 points. But because the Islanders have played one fewer game, they currently occupy the second wild card spot. They are both just one point ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning in what is now pretty much a three-team race for that spot. It is the last meeting of the season between the two teams (Boston does play Tampa Bay once more).

Overall it has been another frustrating season for Rask, whose .910 save percentage is currently the worst of his career. He has really struggled during the Bruins’ current four-game losing streak, giving up 15 goals during that stretch.

Khudobin, meanwhile, has been on a bit of a roll for the Bruins in his recent starts following a terrible start to the season. He has won each of his past four starts, allowing just eight goals.

The Islanders are coming off of a 4-3 shootout win in Pittsburgh on Friday night against the Penguins with Jaroslav Halak making his return to the team and picking up the win.

Brock Boeser will make NHL debut for Canucks today after signing entry level deal

Getty
2 Comments

After a deal appeared imminent on Friday night the Vancouver Canucks made it official on Saturday morning and announced the signing of 2015 first-round draft pick Brock Boeser to an entry level contract.

Not only is he under contract with the Canucks, but he will also make his NHL debut on Saturday afternoon against his hometown team when the Canucks visit the Minnesota Wild.

The Canucks selected Boeser with the No. 23 overall pick in 2015.

He played his collegiate hockey at North Dakota where he put up some massive numbers, recording 94 points in 74 games over two seasons. That includes 16 goals and 18 assists in 32 games this season.

His addition to the Canucks lineup over the remaining nine games of the 2016-17 season will burn one of those years of his entry level contract, but it will give Canucks fans a glimpse of their future and maybe a reason for optimism in what has become a lost season. The Canucks enter the game having lost seven of their past eight.

 

Nikita Kucherov is trying to carry the Lightning to the playoffs

Getty
2 Comments

Every time you think the Tampa Bay Lightning’s playoff chances might be finished this season, they always find a way to keep them alive and stay in the race.

Thanks to their 2-1 overtime win against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night, the Lightning were able to keep pace with the New York Islanders and move to within a single point of a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference as we prepare to enter the final weeks of the regular season. It is still pretty amazing to think about them being this close to a playoff spot when you consider the injuries the team has dealt with this season. Steven Stamkos, their best player, has not played since November. Their center depth has been decimated in recent weeks with Tyler Johnson, Cedric Paquette and Vladislav Namestnikov all missing significant time in the month of March. They traded Ben Bishop, Brian Boyle and Valtteri Filppula at the trade deadline for nothing that will help this current team.

And yet, here they are, still right in the thick of the playoff race.

If they are able to pull this off and get one of the eight spots in the Eastern Conference is going to be because Nikita Kucherov has pretty much put the team on his back over the past month and single handedly carried it to one.

Kucherov scored another massive goal on Friday night when he scored the overtime winner in Detroit, and is currently in the middle of a four-game stretch where he has scored a goal in every game (for a total of seven) and recorded multiple points in each one (for a total of nine). If you go back over the past month, a stretch where the Lightning have managed to go 10-5-1 over a 16-game stretch to remain in the race, Kucherov has been the best offensive player in the league by a wide margin.

Since that stretch began on Feb. 20, Kucherov has scored 17 goals (four more than any other player in the league) and recorded 29 total points (eight more than any other player) to be the single biggest driving force behind the Lightning offense. His 29 points during that stretch mean he has had a hand (scoring or assisting) in 66 percent of the team’s goals (they have 44 during that stretch). He has scored close to 40 percent of them himself.

It is all part of an incredible season that has seen Kucherov climb to the top-five in the league in scoring even though he has missed seven games.

His 1.16 point per game average is third in the league among players that have played at least 60 games, trailing only Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid, and he is only 0.02 points off of McDavid’s pace. He is doing that while owning a 56 percent Corsi percentage that is in the top-25 of the entire league.

He has been one of the most dominant players in the league this season, and has taken his game to an entirely new level in the past month just when the Lightning have needed it most. If they get in, it’s going to be because of him.