The Shane Doan sweepstakes keep getting more interesting.
The main reason is the loss of center Ryan Kesler, out until at least mid-December. The Canucks center underwent offseason surgery on a shoulder and wrist, and the healing process is behind schedule.
That leaves only Henrik Sedin as the most experienced and reliable center, and depth down the middle is a growing concern.
In seeking bodies at center ice, the Canucks are also going after free agent Jason Arnott, who could be considered as a second- or third-line center.
“He had kind of a different role in St. Louis,” Wade told The Vancouver Sun. “He played lower in the line-up and produced at a pretty good rate.”
Though Doan was reported to have visited the Rangers and Flyers, his most recent travel to Vancouver seemed like a full-court press. Wining and dining Doan clearly shows that the Canucks would like to have him address an immediate concern at center, as well as provide insurance for the long term.
With a month to training camp, and players already gearing offseason workouts with an eye on camp, Doan has made no public pronouncements and continues to take “a wait and see” position.
Doan, at 35 years old, has made it clear he wants to remain in Phoenix, the only franchise for which he has played since breaking in as a rookie with Winnipeg in the 1995-96 season and then moving with the franchise to Phoenix.
While the Canucks have a strong sense of urgency to replace Kesler for now, their sights are clearly on Doan. As Vancouver pursues Doan and looks at Arnott, the timing here becomes critical. Doan knows offers will remain on the table, and appears in no hurry to make things happen.
As well, he has expressed dissatisfaction with the inability of Greg Jamison and his group, yet identified, to purchase the Coyotes from the NHL, and then offer a contract to stay in Phoenix. Already, Coyotes’ free agents Ray Whitney (with Dallas), Taylor Pyatt (with the Rangers) and Adrian Aucoin (with Columbus) have new homes.
Arnott entered the picture as a potential backup scenario, and if Kesler were healthy, there might not be as much Vancouver interest in Arnott.
Clearly, the spotlight remains on Doan.
The Coyotes have scheduled an Open House on Thursday, Aug. 9 to sell season tickets at their home rink, Jobing.com Arena. No word if any team personnel, such as general manager Don Maloney, coach Dave Tippett or players plan to attend.
While the future of the franchise remains in limbo, Maloney’s hands are certainly tied, as he has been unable to offer any kind of deal or package to Doan. The Coyotes also have defenseman Michal Rozsival and center Daymond Langkow remaining as free agents.
Mark Brown is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.