Waiting for Go-Doan

Thomas Drance
September 04 2012 10:39AM

In mid-summer Mike Gillis discussed whether or not an aging but highly sought after unrestricted free-agent, the captain of his former club, and a player with a tremendous sense of loyalty to the franchise with whom he spent his career, would fit with the Canucks. Here's how he put it:

It’s natural that players who have played in one place for a long time have a degree of attachment. But I think we offer a unique opportunity and one that presents some different options. We’re cautiously optimistic.

We knew going into this that a player of [his] calibre wasn’t going to make a decision lightly and it wasn’t going to be based on just compensation — it would be based on a variety of different factors. We have been patient and we are prepared to be patient longer.”

Of course, Mike Gillis wasn't discussing Shane Doan in that quote. No, that quote is from the summer of 2008 and if Gillis had been courting Doan then, well, it would've been tampering. The General Manager's language four years ago however, should sound eerily familiar to Canucks fans who've been paying attention this summer - but in that particular quote Gillis was discussing his drawn out but ultimately successful courtship of one Mats Sundin. 

Read on past the jump.

When thinking about Mike Gillis' tenure as General Manager, the Mats Sundin signing stands apart from the rest of his record. With the exception of that massive 2 year, 20 million dollar offer on July 1st, 2008 - Sundin eventually signed a considerably cheaper one year deal - Mike Gillis has generally been a "conservative operator" as Canucks GM.

Sure, Gillis has taken a few big swings on the trade market (the Keith Ballard and Zack Kassian deals for example), but that "conservative" label is especially true when describing the management team's contract work. Consider that the Gillis era Canucks have focussed on signing Vancouver's "homegrown" talent (Luongo, the twins, Kesler, Bieksa) rather than courting big name UFAs. Meanwhile the club's July 1st signings (Malhotra, Hamhuis and Garrison) have been uniformly inked to deals worth well below market value. That said, with the Canucks still hot in pursuit of Shane Doan, it now appears that the Sundin deal wasn't much of an "outlier."

The Mats Sundin offer, recklessly tabled prior to the twins or Luongo signing long-term, was a true "all in move." Should the Canucks get the privilege, signing Shane Doan to a long-term deal (think four years, 24 million) even while the NHL and the NHLPA are discussing slashing the salary cap, would certainly fit that mold. 

Doan's situation has dragged on all summer, but the internal logic of CBA uncertainty indicates that his latest "deadline" should be taken seriously. With the Jamison sale still in limbo and new legal hurdles emerging, time is running out on the Coyotes' attempts to re-sign their captain. One suspects that the Doan derby is crawling towards an imminent climax over the next two weeks, and we should soon find out whether or not Doan's personal relationship with Laurence Gilman, his ties to the Pacific Northwest and the quality of the wine at the Italian Bistro were decisive in Gillis' second "long courtship."

Of course, if the Canucks "win" the Doan derby, they'll also lose it (at least in terms of spending efficiency). There's no doubting that Shane Doan is a true power-forward, and a rare type of player, but I find it hard to believe that he'll be worth 5+ million when he's 38 and 39 years old. That's the market though, and you've got to overpay to land Unrestricted Free Agents with options. Unless that Unrestricted Free Agent decides to take less term and money for no discernible reason, that is.

Though Doan's hypothetical 35+ contract would carry significant risk, and promises to become an albatross in its last season or two, it's a risk the "win-now" Canucks are clearly willing to take. In the short-term Doan would undoubtedly bolster the club's forward group, as Sundin did (a controversial statement, sure). Doan would also bring a "mentorship" aspect that the Canucks clearly find attractive. After all, Mike Gillis and Ryan Kesler have publicly credited Sundin's off-ice presence, in part, for fostering an environment in which the twins evolved into scoring champions, and Kesler morphed into an offensive threat in the top-six...

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 Kent Wilson
September 04 2012, 10:39AM
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Now that is groan inducing post title.

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#3 Mantastic
September 04 2012, 02:28PM
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the canucks already have a contract paying 5+m when a player is 38-42, so another wouldn't be an albatross.

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#4 KleptoKlown
September 04 2012, 03:42PM
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@Mantastic

Just wondering if you're intentionally this thick, or you actually believe Luo will play until he is 42?

Luo's contract goes from 6.7 million to 3.4 million in 2018 to 1.6 million in 2019.

He may play out the 3.4 million dollar year, but the 1.6 million? Not a chance.

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#5 Mantastic
September 04 2012, 04:58PM
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@KleptoKlown

no but will he be worth the 5+m cap hit on the tail end of his career from 38 on? no.

i like how you chose the end of the range i stated and ignored the rest.

talk about being thick...

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#6 KleptoKlown
September 04 2012, 06:49PM
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Your 1st post suggests a definitive time line, 38-42 years old. Your 2nd post changes to an unknown timeline of 38 years onwards...huge difference. He's not going to be a 40+ year old with a 5.3 million cap hit, so your range is flawed.

Even if he did play out his entire contract, there would still be a market for him. Teams like the Coyotes, or Predators would be willing to take on contracts with larger cap hits, but lower salaries in order to circumvent the cap floor. Tim Thomas and Scott Gomez are the largest examples I can think of in this situation right now.

Also, whats to say he won't be worth 5.3 million when he's 38? Broduer is in his 40s making 4.5 million, Kiprosuff will be 37 when his 5.8 million dollar deal expires. Add to the fact we have no idea what the cap will look like in 5 years time...

Nobody knows how father time will treat these guys, so any player on a long term contract has certain risks. Goalies do tend to last longer than others. A 38 year old Luongo making 5+ million doesn't sound as bad as a 38 year old Doan making 5+ million.

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#7 Mantastic
September 04 2012, 11:16PM
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@KleptoKlown

Do you even know what ranges mean? They apply to anything within that range! Luongo has a terrible contract, that is why he hasn't been traded yet. If he offered so much value to teams trying to reach for the cap floor for budget teams, which Florida is, they would have traded for him already!

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#8 KleptoKlown
September 05 2012, 08:24AM
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Pretty sure Luo hasn't been traded yet because only a select few teams need a goalie like him, and most obvious, Gillis is asking too much.

If all Gillis was trying to get was a 6th round draft pick, Luo would be gone already.

A 6th round pick for Rick Depietro? Not in a miliion years.

Luo has a contract with a 5.3 million cap hit until he is 43, yet everybody and their mother knows it's actually until he is 38 or 39...didn't you get the memo? People like you who hate the Canucks like to keep saying Luo is gonna be a 5.3 million cap hit into his 40s, but you don't realize how dense it makes you look.

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#9 Mantastic
September 05 2012, 09:54AM
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@KleptoKlown

but he does have a cap hit of 5+m into his 40's... whether he plays into his 40's is another thing... canucks fans are hella thick. holy crap.

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#10 KleptoKlown
September 06 2012, 04:49PM
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No...he doesn't.

His contract isn't a 35+ year old contract, so his cap hit doesn't count after he retires at 38 or 39.

Sure he has a piece of paper saying he's a 5.3 million cap hit into his 40s, but that was simply to turn a 6.7 million dollar paycheque into a 5.3 million dollar cap hit.

Just because it's written down on paper, doesn't mean it's true. I read on theonion today that Joe Biden hitchhiked to the DNC and Prince Charles finally thinks his boys are old enough to hear what REALLY happened to Princess Di!!!OMG! it must be true if it's in writing!!

Next you're going to tell me Kovalchuk is going to play out his contract too...

There is not 1 GM out there that thinks they're going to have Lu still on the books in his 40s...just thick individuals like yourself :)

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#11 Mantastic
September 06 2012, 04:58PM
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@KleptoKlown

you are seriously really, really dense... yes he does, if he plays at any age between 33-43 he has the cap hit of 5+m... it is only debatable if he plays at 38+ but if he does HE HAS THE CAP HIT OF 5+M. and if it's on a piece of paper called a contract IT IS TRUE. and he was paid 10m at the start of the contract but what do you know? seriously, nothing

wow, this probably why you think it's cool spelling words that start with 'C' with a 'K'

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#12 KleptoKlown
September 06 2012, 05:22PM
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Calling me thick after I call you thick

Calling me dense after I call you dense.

F for originality.

I don't know how many ways I can explain those last years on his contract are cheater years, they circumvent the cap in order to turn a 6.7m yearly salary(minus the first, already paid year of 10m) into 5.3m cap hit.

F for common sense.

Maybe if I had some hand puppets and popup up books you'd get it...but even then I doubt that. I think you should switch to lawn bowling, because hockey is obviously too complicated for you.

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