Many teams around the league are vying for the services of Shane Doan. The Predators amongst others are rumored to be in the mix, but some teams have graciously bowed out of the Doan sweepstakes (Detroit and Vancouver) citing that Doan wants too much money or too long a contract.
But while 27 other NHL franchises may be weighing up the possibility of bringing in the Coyotes captain, a much smarter approach in the UFA pool is Petr Sykora.
The argument for bringing Doan to the Predators is his leadership abilities and his ability to put pucks in the net while playing with a grittiness that has served him well into his mid-to-late-30′s. In regards to these assumptions, the Predators already have a bona-fide leader in Shea Weber who has now been locked up for seemingly the duration of his career. We have other gritty players such as Hal Gill and Paul Gaustad recently signed to provide that extra edge when the Predators so desire (and let’s not forget McGrattan when we need more business taken care of on the ice). As far as putting pucks in the net, the Predators already have that covered with players such a Sergei Kostitsyn and Patric Hornqvist who both scored more goals last season than Doan.
Petr Sykora in his last two full NHL seasons scored 21 and 25 goals respectively and plays from the same position as Shane Doan on the right wing. Sykora had a small stint outside of the NHL in which he played overseas for a Czech squad and the infamous KHL where he scored a combined 29 points in 41 games. Last season, Petr Sykora helped the New Jersey Devils make it to the Stanley Cup Finals and he did this only making $650,000.
Sykora hasn’t had a full NHL season under 44 points since 97-98 when he scored 36 points in 56 games. He broke the 30 goal mark twice early on in his career and even though his numbers have started to drop over the last 3 full NHL seasons, his production still remains highly competitive given his salary demands. Even before this staggeringly low contract, Sykora’s highest salary in four years was $2.5M. Sykora is a player that many Predator fans (myself included) were hoping Poile would pick up two years ago at the trade deadline. Many also pinned Sykora to join the Predators in the off-season before he went to play in the KHL the year before last but Poile didn’t pull the trigger.
If Poile wants to ice a competitive product and do it in the traditional “cost-effective” Predator style, signing Petr Sykora for 2 years should be a given.
Does Doan have Stanley Cup experience? No. Sykora? Yes.
Would Doan cost the Predators more than they could handle given the bonus constraints of Weber’s matched contract? Yes. Would Sykora cost nearly as much as Doan (5-6M per year)? No.
Does Sykora bring a ton of veteran leadership and some much needed offensive skill? Yes.
The answer to the Predators off-season seems very simple. If Poile can offer Sykora a reasonable contract for 2-3 years at $1.5-2M per, the Predators may have the most formidable third line with Craig Smith centering Sykora and Colin Wilson. Even if the injury bug hits the Predators, it would be even more beneficial to have someone like Sykora that can step into top line minutes if Erat (who is prone to injury) or Hornqvist were to go down.
What do you think Predator fans? Should Poile go after Petr Sykora? Should the Predators still make a play for Shane Doan? Feel free to comment below and be sure to follow us on Twitter @ThePredatorial and @Preducated.