By Stu Hackel
Time to check in with two NHLers — once considered loyal beyond question to their teams — who may or may not be changing addresses in the near future. We’ll know about Shea Weber, and whether the Predators match the Flyers RFA offer sheet, no later than Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. As for Shane Doan, and whether he decides to forsake the Coyotes and sign elsewhere as a UFA, the timeline is far less certain.
The latest on Weber, who Philadelphia signed to a stupendous offer last week, is a report that the Flyers and Predators are working on some sort of trade that would end up with Weber moving to Philly but the Predators getting players instead of the four first-round draft choices in return.
Weber leaving Nashville is still a dizzying situation to contemplate and something he might not have considered had Ryan Suter not signed with Minnesota, although relations between Weber and the team could have been strained last year when they went through arbitration. Now, the Predators’ loyalty will be tested: If the Preds decide to remain true to their pledge not to lose top players to another team for financial reasons, then you can forget all this trade talk.
If, on the other hand, Nashville believes matching the offer sheet would cripple their franchise going forward, Predators GM David Poile would probably prefer to acquire NHL-ready talent now rather than draft picks later (as much as four years later) who may never pan out and certainly not for years down the road.
Regardless, it’s hard to know what to make of that report of trade talks by Sam Carchidi of The Philadelphia Inquirer. His source is someone “with knowledge of the situation,” and the source’s contention is that Flyers GM Paul Holmgren and Poile have talked “just once” since Holmgren got Weber’s signature on the heavily front-loaded $110 million 14-year overture and starting the one week clock for Nashville to match.
The two GMs had spoken about a potential trade right before the Predators captain signed the offer and, as Darren Dreger of TSN reported last week, Poile wanted a pair of young talented Flyers as part of the deal, namely Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn. That supposedly was too much for Holmgren and prompted him to attack his target a bit differently, inking the proposed big deal.
If Holmgren wouldn’t part with those players last week, he’s probably not going to part with them this week. So other Flyers may be in his trade package to Poile. Among those who are speculating on what the new offer might include, Larry Brooks in The New York Post suggested either Wayne Simmonds or Jakub Voracek would make sense while Carchidi surmises in The Inquirer, “The Predators could tell the Flyers they will not sign the offer sheet in exchange for some players. Nashville would then get the four No. 1 picks and orchestrate a deal. Let’s say they keep a pair of No. 1 picks and give the Flyers two No. 1s back in exchange for players. The Flyers might give them a list of players available – perhaps Matt Read, Andrej Meszaros, Marc-Andre Bourdon, Erik Gustaffson, and top prospect Nick Cousins – and tell them they can have two of them.”
That’s a lot of names. It doesn’t seem as if anything that Poile can get in return will equal what Weber does as a hockey player, but this really isn’t a hockey trade we’re talking about, is it? We’ll have to wait, probably until late Wednesday, to see how this all gets resolved and if any of these faces end up in new places.
At least we know when Weber’s status will be clarified. Doan’s decision keeps getting pushed further and further up the road. An unrestriced free agent for 23 days now, the Coyotes captain first said he wouldn’t listen to offers until July 9, when he believed the proposed sale of the Coyotoes would be clarified. Two weeks later, it doesn’t seem that much clearer, but Doan still hasn’t said he’s going to sign elsewhere.
But, as they say, actions speak louder than words and the 35-year-old right wing has begun visiting some of the teams that have expressed interest in him. At least 16 clubs contacted his agent Terry Bross and while Doan may not want to visit all of them, he did take the opportunity of being in New York late last week for the CBA talks to ferry up to the Rangers suburban practice facility and tour the Big Apple. The next day, he got together with the Flyers’ brass.
Bross also told Josh Yohe of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Shane is going to visit a couple of more teams. I’m pretty sure Pittsburgh will be one of them. He is interested in the Penguins….There are a lot of teams that we’re considering.”
Shelly Anderson of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweeted that the Penguins made Doan an offer last week. No terms were reported. John Gambadoroa, radio reporter in Phoenix tweeted earlier this month that one Eastern Conference team supposedly offered Doan a four-year, $30 million deal — hard to imagine for the rugged, but aging power forward whose production has declined in recent years.
“Teams have been great about being patient with me, and I appreciate it so much because I know the fluidity of the market and the way that it moves,” Doan said in New York last week where he was for the CBA talks in his role as a member of the NHLPA Negotiating Committee. “The teams have been so kind to my family and understanding the situation we’re in. That being said, eventually I have to make a decision, and it’ll have to probably be without all the information.”
Nowhere has Doan said he’s giving up on the Coyotes, however. It’s just that Bross and Greg Jamison, who is trying to buy the team from the NHL, don’t seem to have had much conversation lately. Doan would very much like to continue playing in Glendale and leading the Coyotes, but Bross had hoped to have some meaningful conversation with Jamison last week to get a sense of how probable Jamison’s purchase is. “It’s been a little quiet from that camp,” Bross told The Arizona Republic.
“He’s more or less waiting for (clarification) on what’s going on with the ownership in Phoenix, not so much going for more money. He’s a very honest guy, and I know he’s the type of guy who would take a pay cut to remain with the Phoenix Coyotes,” teammate Paul Bissonnette told Luke Fox on Sportsnet.ca late last week. “You can see why teams are offering him (contracts), because leadership is hard to come by, especially with guys like Shane Doan.”
There have been well-known obstacles in Jamison’s attempt to buy the Coyotes. First was his ability to attract partners and raise the money to buy the club from the NHL but recently, that has supposedly been settled.
More public has been the opposition to the complicated lease agreement by some Glendale, AZ, citizens. The pact between Jamison and the City of Glendale calls for the cash-strapped municipality to pay Jamison’s group between $10 million and $20 million annually for 20 years to manage the Jobbing.com Arena. That deal occasioned legal challenges and petition drives but some of those have suffered setbacks. The opposition may not be entirely gone, however, and that could be what is holding things up.
But since Bross apparently hasn’t had very much in the way of communication from Jamison lately, Doan seems ready to explore his options.
Both Weber and Doan have been proud warriors for their respective clubs and it’s hard to imagine them playing elsewhere next season and beyond. But in a summer of big money and unexpected doings, their faithfulness to their old teams could become a casualty.
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