Coyotes general manager Don Maloney has said that resigning captain Shane Doan is their number one priority this offseason, but now he will have some competition.
Maloney confirmed on the NHL Live radio program Tuesday that Doan will indeed test the free agent market starting Sunday.
According to a Yahoo.com report, Maloney said on the program, "We feel confident we can re-sign him. It's just a matter of getting a little more clarity, hopefully when Greg Jamison's group may be able to take over the team.
"Unfortunately, it doesn't look like it'll happen by July 1, so now you run the risk of going to July 1 and some of my good friends in the general managers seats saying 'Let me just see if I can make it more expensive for the Coyotes' or make a legitimate offer."
Doan was drafted 7th overall by the franchise in 1995, and has spent all of his 17 seasons in the league with the Coyotes. He was named Coyotes captain during the 2003-04 campaign, and has worn the C ever since.
When Doan was listed as an unrestricted free agent, not many people paid attention. It was unfathomable that the long time Coyote would end up on another roster. Now, that has all changed.
Make no mistake — even at 35 with waning production, Doan will be a coveted free agent that any team would be more than happy to have. Doan is fresh off winning the Mark Messier Leadership Award, and is the two-time captain of Team Canada at the World Championships. He is considered one of the NHL's best leaders.
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If Doan does indeed decide to leave where could he end up?
You have to be certain he is not the only one.
A team with a history of signing aging superstars is the Detroit Red Wings. If Doan would be willing to take a minor pay cut, he would be a perfect fit the Wings. He would also the more talent around him than he has ever had in Phoenix.
Pittsburgh is also a good fit for Doan. The Pens will be in the running for big names like Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, but Doan would be a solid backup plan. His leadership would prove invaluable in a relatively young locker room, and could solidify their second line.
However, in all these situations Doan is not the man.
Shane Doan is the Coyotes, plain and simple. It would be a crippling blow to the franchise if he left town, and the last thing they need in wake of the ownership drama.
Being a lifer is something special. Sidney Crosby knows. Crosby just signed a 12-year deal so he could stay a Penguin for the rest of his career.
In the end, I believe Doan will stay in the desert. Even though Coyotes fans hate to see it, it's a smart move for him to test the market and see what he is worth. He has paid his dues, and deserves a handsome contract to close out his career.
The Coyotes had their best season in franchise history last year, and Doan could nearly smell the Stanley Cup. There's no way he leaves now.