Sharks pursuing Shane Doan, but is he already on the team?

I'll be honest: in the first draft of this article, I was going to write about what the Sharks would look like with Shane Doan on the roster. My assessment was going to be that they should sign him and have him take Ryane Clowe's spot on the team, or at least move him down to the third line. But while I was writing, I realized something. Shane Doan and Ryane Clowe are eerily similar players.

Let's start with the basics: They're both physical, scoring wingers capable of playing on either the right or left side. Both are listed at 6'2", 225 pounds (Ed note: that's according to Yahoo!, has Doan at 6'1", 223). In the last three years, both have averaged exactly 20 goals. In fact, Doan has 165 points in 233 games while Clowe has 164 in 232 games. If there was a video of Shane Doan getting away with playing a puck from the bench, I'd be convinced I were in an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Their advanced stats are even pretty similar. I won't get too deep into it, but a quick look reveals that over the same time frame, both of them are usually on lines that face the second toughest minutes (the exception is 2010-11 where Clowe was sheltered). Neither of their PDO's are titled outrageously, and finish their shifts in the offensive zone within roughly 2% of the same amount as they start there (except this year, where Clowe started there 57% of the time and only finished there 50% of the time). Doan's numbers are a bit more impressive, but not by that much.

Their position on the team is a bit different, so they're not perfect clones (Cloans?). Doan shoots right-handed and Clowe shoots left-handed. You might also say that Doan hasn't had the same quality of line-mates on Phoenix's top line. True, but Clowe doesn't really get to play with Thornton or Marleau very often. Shane Doan is also the captain of the Coyotes and is widely considered one of the best leaders in the game. Ryane Clowe wears an 'A' for the Sharks when they're on the road. Obviously, Doan's valiant leadership must translate to much better playoff numbers. Except they don't. In their careers, Clowe has 45 points in 68 playoff games, Doan has 28 points in 55 games. Doan does have 4 GWG in that time compared to Clowe's 1 (*cough* Patrick Marleau has 13 GWG's in 129 playoff games *cough*). And actually, Doan's advanced stats in the playoffs the past few years are much better, but those are mighty small sample sizes.

And yet, a twenty-nine year old Ryane Clowe is signed for $3.625 million, while a thirty-five year old Shane Doan apparently wants $7.5 million for the next four years. Ridiculous. Especially when considering cap hits for contracts to players 35+ stick on the team whether the player retires or not. Judging from what we've seen here, it's no wonder Doug Wilson apparently won't match that. According to Kevin Kurz, the Sharks are reportedly thinking more along the lines of a three years for around $4.5 million per year. Now that number sounds intriguing for Doan. Let's take a look at the roster with Doan signed to that deal:

Patrick Marleau ($6.900m) / Joe Thornton ($7.000m) / Joe Pavelski ($4.000m)
Shane Doan ($4.500m) / Logan Couture ($2.875m) / Martin Havlat ($5.000m)
Ryane Clowe ($3.625m) / Michal Handzus ($2.500m) / Adam Burish ($1.850m)
T.J. Galiardi ($0.950m) / Andrew Desjardins ($0.640m) / Tommy Wingels ($0.775m)
John McCarthy ($0.613m) /
Brad Stuart ($3.600m) / Dan Boyle ($6.667m)
Marc-Edouard Vlasic ($3.100m) / Brent Burns ($5.760m)
Jason Demers ($1.250m) / Justin Braun ($1.250m)
Douglas Murray ($2.500m) /
Antti Niemi ($3.800m)
Thomas Greiss ($0.588m)
CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
(these totals are compiled without the bonus cushion)
SALARY CAP: $70,200,000; CAP PAYROLL: $69,741,667; BONUSES: $0
CAP SPACE (22-man roster): $458,333

Very intriguing indeed. Clowe can stick around and play on the third line, creating the grittiest gritty line that ever gritted. Unfortunately, Clowe and Handzus on a line might create the slowiest slow line that ever slowed. Burish has good wheels, though, so he'd probably be the one fore-checking. It might work.

The problem is the payroll. The roster is under the cap by nearly $500,000, but who knows if the Sharks' ownership wants to spend that close to the cap. If that is the case, Doug Wilson could probably clear some salary by trading Murray and replacing him with a cheap, veteran defenseman. Very do-able.

If possible, I'd love to see both Clowe and Doan in teal net year. But if Doan wants a huge contract, the Sharks will likely have to choose one or the other. I will say this; beyond his great leadership, the big difference that falls in Doan's favor is the system he plays in. I don't think it's possible he's getting the same amount of good offensive opportunities on a very conservative Dave Tippet-coached team than he would on a Todd McLellan-coached team. I like Shane Doan. It's closer than you may think, but he's better than Ryane Clowe. I'd take Doan at $4.5 million over Clowe at $3.6 million in a second. But giving a 4-year, $30 million deal to Doan is monumentally stupid. Either that, or Ryane Clowe is getting $7 million per year next summer.