Although the Nashville Predators were able to retain defenseman Shea Weber after the Philadelphia Flyers signed him to an offer sheet, this hasn't been a banner offseason for the Music City squad. Signing Phoenix Coyotes forward Shane Doan would certainly change that, however.
According to Kevin Allen of USA Today, the Preds are now one of 16 teams in the running for Doan's services. Barry Trotz, who is the only head coach the Predators' franchise has ever known, had glowing praise for the Coyotes' captain and made it clear that he would love to bring Doan into the fold.
The Predators lost top-pairing defenseman Ryan Suter as he signed with the Minnesota Wild for a king's ransom, and nearly lost their best player in Weber as well. Nashville secured Weber, but by allowing the Flyers to dictate his contract with an offer sheet, the Predators are now stuck with an absolutely massive contract for 14 years.
Weber will have an annual cap hit of nearly $8 million over the life of the contract and will be paid $14 million per season over the first four years. On top of that, the Preds signed center Paul Gaustad to an absolutely ludicrous contract. He'll cost a cap hit of $3.25 million per year over the next four years despite being little more than a face-off specialist and fourth-line center.
Amid all those negatives, though, Nashville may be a true player when it comes to signing Doan. It is well documented that Doan would prefer to stay in Phoenix, but the organization's ownership situation is such a mess that it may drive Doan out of town. Nashville would be a logical landing spot, as it has a similar small-time feel to Phoenix in NHL terms.
Also, the Predators play a style that suits Doan well. Nashville isn't exactly chock-full of offensive skill players. Instead, it relies on great defense and solid goaltending from Pekka Rinne. As far as forwards go, the Preds don't have any flashy superstars, but they have a bunch of 20-goal guys who scratch together enough offense to excel.
Doan fits that mold as he is consistently between 50 and 60 points on the season with at least 20 goals. He probably isn't going to score 30 or top the 70-point plateau at the age of 35, but he is tough, willing to go to the dirty areas and more than capable of lighting the lamp and making the plays that breed winning hockey.
The Predators are going to have to beat out a lot of teams in order to land Doan, but they have the money to do it and can offer a pretty attractive setting for Doan to play in. The Predators are a team that has slowly progressed over the past few seasons, but missing out on Doan would make some sort of regression almost inevitable.
It is going to be difficult enough to replace Suter defensively, but adding some offensive punch could offset that to some degree. The Preds lost Alexander Radulov to the KHL and seem unlikely to re-sign Andrei Kostitsyn as well. That means that a guy like Doan is needed to help an offense that isn't particularly explosive.
Predators fans have to be somewhat discouraged by what has transpired this offseason and are waiting for something positive to happen. Signing Doan would obviously fit the bill and perhaps it would lessen the sting felt by the loss of Suter and the bad contracts doled out to Weber and Gaustad.
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