Free Agency 2012: Shane Doan Is Next In Line, Alex Semin is in Traffic And Rick Nash Isn’t Even Out Of Bed Yet
Due to the shallow nature of the 2012 NHL free agency class (as well as the potential labor dispute on the horizon), each recognizable player has seemingly had the option of going through a tier-system.
That means that standstills and free agent watches have become commonplace as players wait for the player above them to sign a deal in order to dictate what they will ask for.
This has also applied to the forward trade market, which is seemingly going to act as a consolation prize to the teams who are unable to reach deals with the remaining unrestricted free agents on the market.
The result is a giant game of musical chairs where general managers wait out the process in the hopes of not ending up empty-handed when the music stops.
Next chair up for grabs is Shane Doan.
Doan is an interesting case as he isn’t on the market because no one wants him, in fact, if you believe the recent reports, every team in the NHL (and then some) want him.
The reason that the 35-year old is still available is because he wants to remain with the Phoenix Coyotes.
Problem is, the Coyotes ownership situation is in flux right now, which may force Doan to find employment elsewhere. As of this moment, that is starting to look like a strong possibility.
On Tuesday afternoon, Doan’s agent told Fox Sportsnet Arizona that if they don’t have a solid answer from the Coyotes by July 16, they will become serious about listening to offers from other teams (after previously stating that that was going to happen on July 11).
Doan has reportedly been requesting a four-year contract.
Then there is the case of Alex Semin.
Considered a wonderfully talented individual, Semin is plagued by a horrible reputation.
Besides the outburst by TSN’s panel on July 1 about Semin’s personality flaws, it’s clear that the talking heads on news desks aren’t the only ones who are concerned about Semin’s effect on a locker room.
On Saturday morning, Canadian outlet Canoe.Ca ran a story discussing the free agent market and included a quote from Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford, which explains the situation quite succinctly.
"We would look at Semin on a short-term basis. We wouldn't want to get locked in to anything because we've all heard the stories about him. We do like his skill level. It could be that we could bring him in for a year, get to know him and go from there in terms of considering something longer-term."
Upon sitting for dinner in December with an NHL Hall of Famer who now works as a scout with a current NHL team, it was clear that this was going to happen to Semin this summer (in fact, he predicted that Semin was going to end up in Russia’s KHL, which remains to be seen).
To paraphrase what he said, the concern with Semin is about his work ethic.
At the time, this individual’s team was struggling. They had lost a string of games and did not look good when facing competition.
However, they looked good and worked hard in practice.
This was the most important dynamic to the team's management group as to why it wasn’t a serious problem that the team was struggling because the players where figuring something out, in essence trying to solve a puzzle and were making positive progress.
In the management’s collective mind, this eventually was going to translate into future wins (they ended up making the playoffs by a comfortable margin).
In Semin’s case, that was the biggest problem; individuals in the Washington Capitals front office were frustrated with Semin’s dedication to practice and believed that he wasn’t willing to work.
Is it fair? That really isn’t the issue.
In this industry and basically every other industry known to man, perception is reality. The perception in the minds of the management groups around the league, as was dully pointed out by Rutherford and the slaying by the TSN panel, is the reality that every one has tied to Semin.
When there is smoke around a story in the NHL, there is usually a fire.
That’s why the 28-year old is sitting on the sidelines mulling over limited offers with the contract life of a single year.
The interesting thing, though, is Semin probably has a better chance of playing with a second NHL team long before Columbus Blue Jackets superstar Rick Nash does.
On Monday, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch finally released Nash’s list of preferred teams, which was a collection of the usual suspects that had been speculated as the preferred landing spot for months.
For good measure, the list included the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks.
While all those teams would love Nash on their roster, they have no interest in or don’t have the necessary pieces to meet general manager Scott Howson’s high demand on the return.
Howson is still hopeful that once the free agent market dries up, that some general manager will be willing to meet his asking price out of desperation.
However, with Anaheim Ducks forward Bobby Ryan sitting in the wings and whispers of cracked doors open on the potential availability of Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow, the blue-chip price placed on Nash may keep him in Columbus for a while as teams search for cheaper alternatives to improve their respective forward groups.
It’s never easy to predict these kind of things because they can change in a moment’s time, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Doan sign, then Semin and then have the trade market pick-up slowly after that.
Several teams are looking to add forwards and they are going to make difficult decisions in order to make that happen.
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