As the Olympic Games in Vancouver wrap up, the teams in the NHL have resumed practising in preparation for a hectic schedule and the final push to the playoffs. After a two-week break, it is time to shake off the rust and get back to work; for the first place Ottawa Senators, the New York Rangers are the first visitors into Scotiabank Place on March 2nd.
With the NHL trade deadline on the horizon, Senators General Manager Bryan Murray will certainly be one of the buyers at the deadline, perhaps looking to add a defenceman to improve the depth on the blue line. Before the Olympic roster freeze, Ottawa freed up some valuable salary cap space by sending the struggling Jonathan Cheechoo to Binghamton in the AHL. Now that Cheechoo has moved on, one of the questions Senators fans want answered is where does 34-year-old Shean Donovan fit in with the organization?
The 6’3 right winger and Ottawa resident, originally from Timmins Ontario, has been a dedicated member of the Senators since he arrived from the Boston Bruins in July of 2007 in a trade for Peter Schaefer. A constant on Ottawa’s fourth line since his arrival, Donovan has battled injuries this season and the emergence of players like Peter Regin and Jesse Winchester as legitimate NHL players. His last action in an NHL game came January 19th at home to Chicago, in a 4-1 Ottawa victory.
Selected in the second round (28th overall) by the San Jose Sharks in the 1993 entry draft, the former Ottawa 67 has been a dedicated hockey player, both on the ice and in his community. A veteran of 947 NHL games with seven teams (San Jose, Colorado, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Calgary, Boston and Ottawa); Donovan has 111 goals and 129 assists during his career. During the 2007-2008 season, Donovan played all 82 games for the Senators but in recent seasons, he has found his ice time diminishing. He is still a valuable commodity on the penalty kill and forecheck; creating timely turnovers for his linemates with his tremendous speed.
A free agent at the end of the season, Donovan’s year almost ended earlier in the season with a knee-on-knee hit courtesy of Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins on November 19th. The result was two torn knee ligaments and he was expected to miss six to eight weeks but the hard working Donovan returned to the lineup weeks ahead of schedule. He played in 14 games from December 23rd through to January 19th, but he has not been in the lineup since. Listed on several injury reports as “day-to-day” with an undisclosed injury on January 21st, Donovan has found himself a healthy scratch for the past twelve games. He is ready for action when the NHL resumes its schedule; the only question is whether it will be in a Senators uniform.
According to a report in the Ottawa Sun by Bruce Garrioch, the Senators have contacted teams in the NHL inquiring if they have an interest in obtaining Donovan at the trade deadline. A possible trade would not necessarily be to improve the Senators, all they could hope for is a late round draft pick; it would be General Manager Bryan Murray’s way of helping a deserving NHL veteran find his way back on the ice.
The time off has helped Shean Donovan recover fully from his knee injury and there is no doubt he would be a great addition to a team looking for a veteran presence for the playoffs. However, the Senators and the community would be losing a tremendous asset if Donovan leaves in a trade, but in this salary cap era, these types of roster moves happen; it is the unfortunate business side of hockey. When his career does end, there is no doubt that a place in the Senators organization is waiting for a man of Donovan’s character and integrity.
In other Senators news: GM Bryan Murray took care of some business on Friday afternoon, rewarding right winger Ryan Shannon with a one-year contract extension at $625,000. Acquired from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for defenceman Lawrence Nycholat in September 2008, Shannon has appeared in 55 games this season, scoring five goals and adding 11 assists. In 170 NHL games, the native of Darien Connecticut has accumulated 20 goals and 40 assists playing with Anaheim, Vancouver and Ottawa.
Andrew Rodger is an independent sports columnist and member of the Canadian Association of Journalists. Along with operating The Voice of Sport, he covers the Ottawa Senators and writes the “Ask the Alumni” series here at The Hockey Writers. He is the resident writer for the NHL Alumni Association and a contributor on CBC News Now.