“Here we go again,” may be the most popular phrase in Buffalo right now.
Last night, John Buccigross of ESPN confirmed weeks of speculation on Twitter by reporting that it was the Buffalo Sabres and general manager Darcy Regier that have been (at least one of the teams) to offer Shane Doan a four-year, $30 million deal this offseason.
This is not necessarily surprising, with Regier taking every public opportunity possible to praise Doan and his playing style, but it may be alarming to some.
At a very high level, Doan makes a lot of sense for the Sabres. He’s tough, he’s gritty and he’s a top-six talent that could score 25-30 goals.
But that ignores the most important factor in this entire saga: his age.
At 35 (and 36 during the season), Doan has a lot of mileage on his legs. What is even more concerning is his style of play coupled with his age.
As talented as Doan is offensively, he certainly doesn’t shy away from the dirty areas. He’s always one to take the body or mix it up when need be. Basically, he will not be protecting himself in any way, shape or form on the ice.
As far as the money is concerned, the dollar amount may be a little high, but that’s what is going to be needed to steal Doan away from Phoenix, no matter what the ownership situation is there.
Is he going to be worth $7.5 million per season when he’s 40? Absolutely not. But can he potentially contribute meaningfully until then? Not a stretch to think so.
The biggest problem with the money is really two somewhat related ones.
First, Doan is over 35, which means that the only way to get rid of the $7.5 million cap hit is to trade him or have him retire. Assuming the deal is signed under the current CBA or the new CBA doesn’t change the rule, players signed when they are over 35 cannot be sent down to the AHL to be buried, clearing the cap space.
The only option would be to buy him out, which still impacts the cap.
This means the Sabres would be eating up (using this season’s $70 million cap hit as the comparison) over 10 percent of the cap for the next four years on an aging player as players like Brayden McNabb, Tyler Ennis, Cody Hodgson finish their entry-level deals and are due a raise.
It just doesn’t make sense.
The second problem is similar to what Darcy and Lindy Ruff would have endured if Zach Parise would have signed in Buffalo—namely, the pressure to win.
If the Sabres start off slow next season if Doan signs, Darcy will be seen as some spendthrift that just wants to throw his new found money at the problem instead of finding a real solution for it.
Ruff would be cast out (as some already have) as a bad coach who can’t even win with talent.
Beyond all of that, Doan would stifle the growth of players like Corey Tropp and Luke Adam who will be fighting for a spot on the roster when the season starts, but will have no spot if Doan is signed.
So on a high level, Doan would bring the gritty-yet-talented style of play and leadership this team sorely needs. But at the cost, they don’t seem to be quite as pressing as they were before.
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