The first of the Ottawa Senators unrestricted free agents we'll take a look at is winger Shean Donovan. Although he's 34 and perhaps nearing the end of his NHL career, Donovan has said he has no interest in retiring, and will try to find a place to play for the 2010-11 season.
#10 / Right Wing / Ottawa Senators
Jan 22, 1975
|2009 - Shean Donovan||30||2||3||5||-4||40||0||0||0||0||24||8.3|
Contract status: Donovan's two-year contract extension with the Senators ended after the 2010 playoffs. He earned $600k in the first season, and $650k in the second, for a cap hit of $625k over the one-way NHL deal. He will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, unless he is re-signed.
Season review: Used sparingly by coach Cory Clouston, and fighting through a couple injuries to boot, Donovan probably isn't very happy with how the season went. Even when he drew into the lineup, he was on the fourth line and given little playing time. Through the season he battled with Ryan Shannon and Jesse Winchester as the 13th forward, and, as is often the case, Clouston usually sided with the younger players.
Conparable players: The best comparison for Donovan is probably himself: His game hasn't changed in the two seasons since he last signed a contract extension, and he hasn't lost a step yet in terms of speed. Still, there are also a few other players around the league who offer a good comparison to Donovan...
#18 / Center / Colorado Avalanche
May 09, 1974
Cap hit: UFA
Yelle is a little older than Donovan, but signed a one-year, $550k contract with Carolina (he was later traded to Colorado) before last season. Although he hasn't had a season as good as Donovan's best (SheanDon put up 18G and 24A in 2003-04, Yelle's best season was way back in 1996-97 when he had 13G and 14A), their points-per-game averages are almost identical: Donovan scores at a rate of 0.253 PPG, Yelle is at 0.267. Seems likely that if Donovan is offered a contract, it will be lower than his most recent salary, closer to Yelle's $550k--or perhaps even lower.
#11 / Left Wing / New Jersey Devils
Jun 15, 1973
Cap hit: UFA
You didn't think I was going to go through the whole post without bringing up D-Mac, did you? Well, I won't. McAmmond's a couple years older than Donovan, and has significantly better career production--and this past season, he scored more than three times as many points in twice as many games. And yet, McAmmond came into the season without a contract, until he was given a one-way AHL deal with the Devils organization. It wasn't until New Jersey ran into injury problems that they signed McAmmond to an NHL deal at league minimum ($500k) to bring him back to the majors. One thing Donovan has in his favour is his size--he's quite a bit bigger than McAmmond, which is a good thing for a fourth liner--but offers might be few for Chum's services. Those that come may be tryout contracts, and perhaps even two-way deals with the possibility of significant AHL playing time.
#45 / Right Wing / Philadelphia Flyers
Apr 13, 1978
Cap hit: UFA
Asham's smaller than Donovan, but he's got more of a pestiness to his game--probably a bigger factor in his recent two-year deal with Philly that carried a cap hit of $640k than his offensive potential. In terms of offensive potential, though, Asham's got a better career point-per-game average than Donovan, and he's a couple years younger to boot. Seems unlikely Donovan will get a contract close to the $640k Asham received on his last deal.
#27 / Right Wing / Pittsburgh Penguins
Apr 26, 1977
Cap hit: $550k, one more year
Adams hasn't shown career production on the same level as Donovan (he's about 3/5 as efficient offensively), but he's got a sound two-dimensional nature to his game. Plus he signed his contract extension with the Penguins right after he won the Cup with the team, so he was likely looked on with favour because of the history.
Conclusion: All of this, really, is to say that Donovan will likely get a one-year contract for league minimum ($500k), if he gets an offer from the Senators at all. There's a reason why three of players comparable to Donovan are UFAs: Players in their mid- to late-30s with limited offensive potential aren't given long-term contracts. And there's a reason why the salaries are so low, relatively speaking: They're used as stop-gap, short-term, easily-replaced spare parts. In fact, Donovan may be approached with an AHL or two-way contract, similar to McAmmond of the above names, or to Jason Krog and Dave Scatchard elsewhere in the league.
While I'd like to see Donovan back in a Senators uniform next season, unless he signs a two-way deal, there may be no room for him. Once contract extensions are signed for Nick Foligno and Peter Regin (which I assume will happen in due time), there will be one roster spot left for Ryan Shannon, Zack Smith, Bobby Butler, and Cody Bass to compete with, to say nothing of the unsigned Jesse Winchester and, if it ends up happening, Roman Wick coming over to compete for an NHL gig.