Why I prefer to just say no to Doan

A sentence from Rich Hammond leapt out at me this morning.

Toffoli talks development camp « LA Kings Insider

Toffoli has made big strides. Coaches like his skill, but what they like more is the fact that Toffoli, while still playing junior hockey, has started to approach the game like a pro. His conditioning and all-around game have improved greatly, to the point that the Kings seriously considered the possibility of playing Toffoli in the playoffs. Heading into next season, with the NHL roster presumably returning intact, it will be tough for Toffoli to crack the roster, but it certainly won’t hurt him, at age 20, to spend a year at the AHL level. Of course, like every prospect, Toffoli has his sights set on the NHL

He’s that close to being ready for prime time, and we’re thinking of giving away his roster spot for the next three years?

A lot of people have been asking me why I’m opposed to signing Shane Doan. Is it just that his epic meltdown of bad sportsmanship in this past playoffs is impossible for me to get past? No, it’s not just that, and anyway, I could look past it if I had to, especially since he wouldn’t be the captain or the alternate captain or the alternate-alternate-alternate-sub-alternate-intern on the Kings. Is it that he is an evolution-denier, which in my book makes him mentally-challenged? That would be a problem if he were my spouse, but in a teammate I don’t really care; after all, I had been lobbying for years that the Kings needed to bring in some assholes with high-skill (foregoing the whole “character guys” mandate that has been the staple of the Lombardi Plan), and I’m sure my favorite players have many beliefs I would rather not know about.

No, my problem with signing Shane Down is that he would be taking up a roster spot that I think we need to give to one of our several highly-touted prospects. One of the weirder effects of winning the cup has been, in my opinion, this new belief that the Kings need to go into full “protect the dynasty”/REPEAT-REPEAT! mode, as though — having slowly and methodically built this team through careful and crafty drafting, strategically brilliant trades and pitch-perfect UFA signings, what we now need to do is get as old and veteran as possible and batten down the proverbial hatches.

A critical strategy of Lombardi’s method is that he takes pains to “ladder” his prospects so that a couple of them come due (I’m using the bond-laddering analogy here) every season. This of course keeps things competitive, but primarily what it does is it helps insure that at least a handful of the contracts on the active roster will be affordable ELCs or cheaper second contracts.

This year: Voynov, Clifford, Loktionov, Nolan and King are all on ELCs. Fraser, Lewis, Richardson, Westgarth, Martinez, Drewiske and Bernier are on bargain-basement deals. That’s 12 guys. And every one of those twelve are due for new contracts either immediately or next summer. Wait, maybe Westgarth is 2014. That doesn’t matter though, since I doubt he’ll be on the team by this September, edged out by market forces like the ones we’re talking about now).

With Kopitar, Richards, Carter, Doughty and Quick signed long-term, and Brown soon to follow, who are the kids going to be in three years? Yes, Williams will likely move on in two years. And Penner and Gagne, after next season. I was already at the tipping point when Stoll was re-signed. I thought that was an interesting choice, giving that it all but dooms Andrei Loktionov to a year in the AHL  (or worse, KHL), until/unless someone gets injured. Loktionov has one more season of waiver-exemption, but after that, he’s either a King or he’s traded, if he isn’t traded sooner. And I will be extremely upset if that comes to pass.

I would much rather have given C3 to Loktionov and let him spread his wings. (No, the third line is not our defensive-stopper unit, so don’t get me going; the Kopitar and Richards lines get the tough assignments, not the Stoll line.) I have lobbied for a speedy-offensive third line — a la Donnelly-Millen — for awhile. One of those configurations could/should be Gagne-Loktionov-Toffoli, or, after this season, King-Loktionov-Toffoli, or even, down the road Schumacher-Loktionov-Toffoli. Now, with the signing of Stoll, that dream is dead.

Now, add Doan to that. The third line automatically becomes Gagne-Stoll-Doan. Is that a good line in 2012-13. Probably. What about in 2015? No. Because it won’t exist. Because none of those three guys will be on the team in three years. Two of them will probably not even be in the league anymore.

Putting Doan on the third relegates Clifford, King, Nolan, Lewis, Fraser, Richardson and Westgarth (and Loktionov and Toffoli) to the fourth line or press box. Two of those names have to go, right off the bat. I choose Westgarth and one of Clifford, King or Nolan. You could trade Westgarth (or waive) and send Nolan (who has exemption left) back to Manchester. Richardson becomes the Drewiske of forwards and one of Clifford or King is always a healthy scratch. I don’t mind losing Westgarth; he’s been made expendable by Clifford, King and Nolan. But sending Nolan and Loktionov to Manchester seems like a step backward.

And here’s one more thing, kind of a big deal now that I think about it: Stanley Cup hangover.

Going into next season with the roster intact (which, by the way, is some kind of miracle) is a silver lining inside a cloud no-one is talking about yet. The conventional wisdom is that a huge contributing factor to Stanley Cup hangover is the fact that the team has just played 100+ games compared to most teams’ 82, and have had only a few weeks to recover, compared to half a year. Players are banged up. Old players, exponentially so.  One way to combat the exhaustion that is bound to have an effect is not simply to jump into 2012-13 as though the first week of the season is already the playoffs and the Kings have to immediately prove to everyone that the 2012 cup was no fluke by going all-out in defending the cup from game one in October. I frankly think it would be an excellent time to get some fresh legs in there.

Although maybe it’ll will work out that way no matter what. Sign Doan, and by January the old timers will be hurt and we’ll be looking at King-Loktionov-Toffoli anyway.

I’d be happier if people would remember that we had Jarret Stoll at C3 for the whole season, and Gagne and Hunter and Moreau for a big chunk of games, and with those guys we very nearly didn’t make the playoffs at all.

 

 

 
  • CarlosListon

    I would LOVE to have Doan on a one-year deal. Anything more than that, I’m not a fan of.

    • TradedForAPick

      I would take 2 years at the most. I think Dean is offering probably no more than that if he is smart and looking ahead. Doan may only be considering LA for the reason that it’s close to home, has a shot at a Cup, and could look for another team right afterwards (or even go back to Phoenix if they still have a team). He may factor that in even if he isn’t getting 4+ years from LA. In any sense, Doan is a luxury buy. Not a necessity. Hopefully Dean sees it the same and lets Doan decide. Mortgaging the future after the team just won it all seems like a huge lapse in judgement. Tofs should be getting a shot in a year or even this season if an in**** crops up. Don’t let chasing Doan mess that up.

      But still having a Gags-Stoll-Doan 3rd line would be so damn cool. At least for a year.

  • Sam

    I agree completely. You can’t forget you have to bring the kids along no matter what. That’s why I agreed with forgoing Stoll’s re-signing. But there’s a dressing room component with Stoll I’m not privy to. However, that may be the exact opposite when it comes to Doan. I can’t imagine he’s well-liked by any of the Kings most especially Brown. I’d say more but its all been well-said above so I’m good.

    • https://twitter.com/BobKnob2point0 Bob Knob

      I’m sure everyone on the Kings, including our Caption, would welcome him on the team and be happy about it.

  • DougS

    I’m still kind of taken aback by the depth of sentiment in favor of signing Doan for 3 or even 4 years. Did you see the comments on the relevant JftC threads? Gad.

    Not that I’m down on Doan as a player, but I just can’t see the good sense in blocking off the path of advancement for younger guys like Loktionov and Toffoli, or in spending much money on him. Like I said, it would have to be a contract that makes Doan easy to trade — like, at a moment’s notice. And he’ll probably get more lucrative offers — i.e., at least one GM will probably be desperate/crazy enough to offer him a mondo contract.

    I’m also still kind of surprised that both Stoll and Penner got re-upped (Stoll for 3 years, at that). But both took pay cuts to come back, and I suppose Stoll’s deal makes him tradable.

    • jewelsfromthecrown

      Young kids like Toffoli are great to look forward to, but not sure things. And their development does not always go in a straight line even if they do make the club (think of Clifford).

      I get concerns over blocking places for kids, but Doan’s not exactly a feeble leper. Would I want a 4 year contract? No, but he’s a solid player, and proven. Hopeful as I am, I honestly don’t know what to expect even from King next season.

      • http://www.mcsorleys-stick.com/ Quisp

        Doan is 35-36. He’s old. He’ll be able to make a valuable contribution to society for a couple more years, probably. Maybe. But that’s it. That’s the rosy picture. But let’s say he suddenly starts to look and play old. When does he get cut loose? Answer: never, probably. And that’s a contract that doesn’t come off the books.

        Prospects aren’t sure things. But neither are UFAs. I have no problem putting my money on Toffoli or Loktionov to outscore Shane Doan over the next three years. Except that they likely won’t get the chance.

        • DougS

          Exactly. I don’t give a shit that Whitney and Brodeur are still productive players at 40. They’re outriders. Age-related decline is real. To paraphrase Carl Sagan on evolution, it’s not a theory, it’s a fact. Jeez, does nobody read Bill James anymore?

          And signing Doan WILL block younger players if the contract is extravagant to the point that no one will take it in trade. That’s why I emphasize: It has to be a tradable contract.

          • DougS

            Okay, so I just looked at Doan’s career stats via Hockey Reference, and I’m seeing more or less the same career arc that James described for baseball players 25 years ago: He peaks between the ages of 27-32, and we’re seeing some tail-off from the age of 33 onward. Last season was his worst in terms of point production since he was 25. And he has played at least 70 games/season during this time, so there are no seasons cut short due to injury.

            Based on this, I would conclude that Doan will probably be a reasonably useful player for another couple of seasons, but he is in decline. 15-20 goals next season, 45-55 points (at most). Decline continues until he finally calls in quits. How much you wanna pay for that?

            • jewelsfromthecrown

              I’ve said before, I wouldn’t pay very much for Doan. But I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for Lewis (a 2-3% shooter at evens) or a rookie Toffoli to equal or better his production, either.

              Is holding a spot open for a prospect the best course?

              Richards, Carter, and Brown being the ages that they are, I’d say the next two-three years are pretty critical for their chances repeat. I’d rather they address that somehow than just sit around –if not Doan, then someone.

              • http://www.mcsorleys-stick.com/ Quisp

                I think of Lewis as Eric Belanger-ish. I agree he’s not a finisher. Toffoli, on the other hand…if he’s not on the Kings full-time by 2013 I will be disappointed. He’s got the shot you can’t teach.

                I just keep coming back to the problem the Kings have had for the last three years, the one that nearly killed them this past season: scoring goals. Scoring 5on5, scoring on the PP, scoring, scoring, scoring (scoring). Shane Doan isn’t going to help that. Neither is Jarret Stoll.

                I’m not saying “ooh give Brandon Kozun a chance.” But I am saying: a season of Toffoli will be more productive and more fun than a season of Doan, and I would say the same re Loktionov vs. Stoll.

                I wonder how rudy feels about this compared to his feelings about Ryan Smyth. @rudykelly

                • DougS

                  Also, the Lokti-skeptics aren’t taking into account that he hasn’t had much of a chance to play under Sutter’s more aggressive, counter-attacking style. With freer rein than he had under TM, I’ll bet he puts up better numbers and helps with that nasty, persistent scoring problem.

                  • https://twitter.com/BobKnob2point0 Bob Knob

                    The problem is that people don’t remember how the game actually went down when Lokti was centering Lewis and Richardson. They just look at the stat sheet and go duh, he no dun scoar. Lokti, Richie and Lewis (and whoever rotated in and out of his line) controlled play in the offensive zone but all three sucked so bad at finishing it wasn’t even funny. It was unbearable to watch all this great play showing no results. Put a winger or two with Lokti who can shoot a puck more than a couple feet in the air and that line would have easily scored a few more goals ezpz.

                    The only major issue I have with Lokti is his strength. He’s weak and shortish and small and not muscular at all. There’s only one way for him to grow, thicker. He wasn’t developed properly by mgmt imo as far as that goes. They dropped the ball big time. If he gets stuck in his own zone or trying to rub players out in the corners, he suffers and we give up shots and goals against. He’s not able to pin someone, or muscle them off the puck (it’s like watching anyone try to muscle Kopi off the puck). He can shadow them and stay goal side and hope they don’t have enough space to make a nice play or pass, but really that is not good D.

                    • JB

                      I love that transition from Lokti was just on a crappy line that did ok at ragging the puck in the offensive zone and people are just looking at his stats. Then your “but” is he’s “weak and shortish and small and not muscular.” And then you generally point out he sucks a defensive zone. Not sure why blame management. They’ve tried him away from center but he’s looked even more lost on wing.

                      I agree with all you said in the second half of your post. Your point on the first half might be somewhat valid in that he didn’t have greatest wingers. But the job of a center is to make his wingers better. Not the other way around. And if he can’t do that then at least he better be covering his responsibilities defensively.

                      So do we retool the 3rd or 4th line w/ wingers to help Lokti? I say he either takes a giant leap in his abilities at center, learns to transition to wing or finds some other way to become a versatile player that can get spot duty and then maybe move up the lines. Short of that we trade him this season.

                    • https://twitter.com/BobKnob2point0 Bob Knob

                      Who else is responsible for getting him stronger? Himself.

                      Either he doesn’t have the desire, doesn’t know how, isn’t surrounded by people who do (his agent, trainers, etc), and/or he was never pushed to do so by management. They have had plenty of time to fix this glaring gap in his development. It is really not that hard to do, instead they (team? PT? himself?) have him doing side lunges with a 35 lb kettlebell which is gonna do absolute shit for his strength.

                      RE him making his linemates better: I think you miss the concept. Setting up your teammates with glorious scoring chance after glorious scoring chance is in fact making them (look) better. He can’t also put away those glorious scoring chances himself. They spent a lot of time in the offensize zone as well. The defensive chances against wouldn’t have looked so bad if they had been able to put away some of those nice setups. Obviously his defensive zone play has some gaps, but imo a lot of that can be improved simply by getting stronger which he could be doing right now.

                      Who knows, maybe he is already getting stronger right now and shows up in camp significantly improved in that regard.

                • jewelsfromthecrown

                  I just don’t see how keeping Toffoli in the AHL for a year or two does any harm (ask the Red Wings). We really don’t know much about how he will actually fare at the NHL level.

                  And to the idea that Shane Doan isn’t going to help scoring 5v5 — he’s much, much better at that than Stoll, if that means anything.

                  Not all veterans are the same.

                  • http://www.mcsorleys-stick.com/ Quisp

                    I get it. Prospects are unproven. Doan is better than Stoll. I don’t think I said (or didn’t mean to say) that Toffoli would be harmed by a year or two in the AHL. I still would rather see him on the Kings.

                    “And I’m pretty sure Lombardi’s staff has evaluated future Toffoli versus present Doan; they’re offering a contract to Doan anyway. Maybe he doesn’t even see Toffoli and Doan in conflict.”

                    I think having a mediocre third line was a huge part of the problem last season — during the scary problem part, not the winning the cup part. Maybe Lombardi thinks the problem was Murray and now that’s solved. Maybe he’s right.

                    But I still want a third line that is a pure offensive line that destroys people with speed and snipery goodness. It’s highly unlikely any Loktionov or Toffoli will have a shot no matter how good they are, when the personality and concept of the third line — not to mention the personnel — is set. Remember when everyone was upset about the third line of Frolov/Handzus/Simmonds costing $7MM? Gagne/Stoll/Doan = $10-11MM, or thereabouts.

                    I’m not saying I’m right. It’s just what I would do. I’m wrong all the time. I would have traded Brown.

              • DougS

                “Richards, Carter, and Brown being the ages that they are, I’d say the next two-three years are pretty critical for their chances repeat. I’d rather they address that somehow than just sit around –if not Doan, then someone.”

                Age-related decline is a fact of life at Doan’s age. Given the near-certainty that his effectiveness and productivity will fall off over the next several years, I don’t see how it’s any riskier to give a shot to Toffoli, who has strong upside potential, in 2013-14. Or to King, who is still young and may not have hit his ceiling as an NHL player.

                “I’ve said before, I wouldn’t pay very much for Doan.”

                Neither would I, which is why I keep saying it over and over again. And it’s heartening to see that a lot of people answering the JftC poll seem to agree with me that a 2-year offer would be best. My problem is not with people who see Doan as a short-term acquisition, but with the people who want him to get a 4-year offer and don’t seem to understand that Doan now is not the player he was 5 years ago, and that in 2-3 years he won’t even be the player that he is now. Look at the the comments in the relevant JftC threads and it’s not hard to spot the ones I mean. It’s like hearing people who deny the Laws of Thermodynamics offer their opinions on physics.

                • jewelsfromthecrown

                  “I don’t see how it’s any riskier to give a shot to Toffoli, who has
                  strong upside potential, in 2013-14. Or to King, who is still young and
                  may not have hit his ceiling as an NHL player.”

                  There’s where we differ, because we’re projecting unknown commodities versus predicting a proven scorer’s fitness and decline. Where’s the line? I’m not particularly a fan of the Doan option, but I don’t see how prospects are more certain than him. It’s a guess. And I’m pretty sure Lombardi’s staff has evaluated future Toffoli versus present Doan; they’re offering a contract to Doan anyway. Maybe he doesn’t even see Toffoli and Doan in conflict.

          • jewelsfromthecrown

            Are we really not going to add any other player because some young players *might* be blocked? Either they’re good enough to be added, or they’re not. Veterans can be moved if the Kings are lucky enough to actually have a surplus of wingers. That’s happened so rarely, it seems odd to plan their team around it.

            • http://www.mcsorleys-stick.com/ Quisp

              It’s not a question of “any” other players or “some” young players. Parise I don’t mind making room for. The Kings need scoring, power play and 5on5. Doan doesn’t address that. Doan addresses a grit and leadership issue that…well…the Kings don’t have that issue. So in that sense, sure, I will avoid veterans who don’t address our needs in favor of prospects who may or may not be ready but do actually address our needs.

              And I don’t like the idea of a third line that is really just an inferior version of the first two lines, a hybrid checking-scoring line that isn’t that good at either.

  • jewelsfromthecrown

    Stoll needs quality wingers to produce. Without them, he won’t hit 40 points. And they’ve chosen Stoll. I don’t like what it means for Lokti, but that’s the way it looks right now.

    Doan doesn’t really fit in the Kings’ plans on a long contract, but I don’t think he compares to Moreau and Hunter, either. He still produces against tough competition. And while I love Trevor Lewis, he hasn’t shown the ability to hit the net often enough for my comfort (part of what doomed Lokti in his stint as 3C, I think).

    If they wait for Toffoli, fine. But 3rd line RW needs an upgrade.

    I don’t think time in Manchester would harm Nolan. Richardson and Westgarth can go. But I think they’re going to be outbid anyway, so I’m not too concerned.

    • http://www.mcsorleys-stick.com/ Quisp

      I’m not saying he is on the same (low) par as Moreau or Hunter. I dislike Doan. Those other guys suck. Doan doesn’t suck.

  • Token

    Signing Doan will not block any of the kids from stepping up. When a player of Doan’s style and caliber hits the UFA market and he expresses interest, you make room. Lets face it, Doan with the Kings is a conference game changer.

    So what if a few prospects get to compete a bit harder to make the roster? Why is that a bad thing? If Toffoli, Lokti, Vey, Weal et al are star-material, they will take someones job away. If they don’t cut it in the top 6 there is plenty room in the bottom 6. Honestly, we will be lucky if one of those guys breaks into a top 6 role anytime soon.

    And lets not forget that we have a few top forwards with very tradable contracts.

    I just don’t see the downside to this possibility if AEG is willing to take the financial risk of a 35+ contract.

    • http://www.mcsorleys-stick.com/ Quisp

      It’s bad because it’s a choice to be old and static. Toffoli, Loktionov, Vey, Weal (p.s. Weal is not in the league of those other guys, and neither is Vey, really) won’t have the chance to take someone’s job away because there won’t even be an opportunity. Not this year, under the circumstances we’re discussing.

      • DougS

        It’s also a choice to potentially pay a guy in decline much more than he’s worth. And the risk is higher than taking a chance on a high-level prospect like Toffoli or Lokti because Doan will be making a lot more money.

        Now, Lombardi has created some room for himself under the salary cap where he can roll the dice on overpaying for Doan for a few years, but he didn’t get the Kings to the virtuous spot in which they now find themselves by overpaying for guys in their declining years.

  • JB

    More Lokti love? I get your point that the 3rd line doesn’t get the “tough” assignments like maybe it did in the past or other teams use that line but Lokti had chances on that line and the 4th line this past season and didn’t overly impress. And while it’s not the stopper line it is a line that other teams will try and take advantage of during defensive faceoffs. Lokti was terrible in my opinion generally in the defensive zone either at center or wing.

    As I’ve said before I’ve never been sold on Lokti and I think more likely scenario is in a couple years if Stoll is gone we replace him with another “role” player UFA signing.

    • http://www.mcsorleys-stick.com/ Quisp

      Yes, more Lokti love.

      Put it this way. Three years ago, I lobbied to keep that loser Teddy Purcell but his fate was sealed by the presence of Ryan Smyth. Smyth was good, even very good, for parts of two seasons, but he’s old (younger then than Doan is now) and he’s a top six player (Doan, not really), but the Kings would have been better off keeping Purcell and being slightly more patient.

      But sure yeah, get rid of Loktionov. No way that will come back to haunt the Kings.

      • DougS

        And let’s not forget that King looked like he would never amount to anything… until suddenly he looked a lot better. And even last summer, Jack Ferreira was perhaps the only person in the Kings organization who saw that he was ready for the NHL.

        It’s easy and shallow to look at young players who are still works in progress and dismiss them. Then, before you know it, you’re doing the kind of stupid shit that the Kings used to do, that made them bad/mediocre for so many years.

        • TradedForAPick

          I hope Lokti makes it. I hope he makes it with the Kings. But he hasn’t done much for me to say he would be a better C3 than Stoll this season. Especially given how much the rest of the team likes Stoll (Brown calling him a “glue guy”). One more year in the AHL shouldn’t kill the kid, and I prefer depth. Maybe he is screwed as King. It would suck. But I prefer the conservative route here and go with what you know. More so knowing Stoll is a great faceoff man, kills penalties, and can singlehandedly push your team into the playoffs with his shootout ability. If an in**** pops up in the top 6, then Lokti or Tof can get their shot.

          • JB

            That’s been my point all along with Lokti but I think you said it better. I’m not saying Lokti is a lost cause. I’m just responding to what I think is Quisp’s argument that Lokti would be a better option now rather than Stoll. Maybe I’m misunderstanding Quisp.

            For all that Purcell has done in Tampa Bay I don’t think that he would be the same guy here in LA. Lokti is in a similar spot though in that I don’t see him fitting in as a center on this team. Even if Stoll went down I would see Lewis or Fraser stepping in first. Or even play Carter there if you want to really roll 3 offensive lines as Quisp argues. Or even Richardson has been better at center than Lokti in a pinch.

  • https://www.facebook.com/logan.gawain Logan Gawain

    That’s perfectly reasoned and well stated, Quisp.

  • USHA#17

    The ladder concept is the future. On that count LA is in great shape.

    Doan, uh, if we had to. How about this, drop Fraser and Stoll, sign Doan. Oh, but we don’t have to sign Doan. Just like I understand but can not countenance his frustration.

    Loktiionov, man he needs to eat lots of chicken this off season. Fill up on those hormones they use to grow these massive, leg breaking chicken breasts found 16 per package at Costco. That boy has got the smarts but sure needs some muscle.

    But its the ELC rotation that (IMO) is key to building anything close to a consistently deep playoff team.

    And Doan. Maybe he wises up when he stops wondering the desert and ceases to devolve.