Contract hold-ups for Doan, Semin

It looks likely that Shane Doan will remain in a Coyotes uniform. Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

They're far and away the two best free-agent forwards available. Yet, with August closing in, Shane Doan and Alexander Semin still don't have contracts to play next season and, in both cases, it's not because of a lack of interest. But the reasons each one remains unsigned are quite different.

First, there's Doan. From the outset, he's made it clear that he wants to play for the Phoenix Coyotes next season. If there were stable ownership there, a deal would be done.

While the Coyotes appear to be clearing every legal hurdle they've faced this summer, there still hasn't been any finality determined yet for their future. So Doan remains unsigned.

But the delay in a deal suggests that Doan is more willing to wait for things to clear up in Phoenix than he is to jump to another team at this point. On Monday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Shelly Anderson reported that the Pittsburgh Penguins have an offer on the table for Doan, joining a long list of interested teams that is expected to include the Los Angeles Kings, Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks, New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres.

But while those teams are doing their due diligence in pursuing the ideal veteran forward to plug into a championship contending team, there currently isn't optimism on the market that Doan actually will leave the desert.

On Monday, one GM set the chances quite high that Doan will return to the Coyotes, saying he is "90 percent sure he is going back."

Phoenix is the only franchise Doan has ever played for. He is the captain of a team he helps overachieve every single season despite all the uncertainties in ownership. Outside of hockey, he's invested in the area with a stake in Ice Barns, a stable that allows people to share ownership of horses.

It would be a pretty big culture change for someone from Western Canada who grew up on a horse ranch to suddenly up and move to Buffalo or Detroit to wrap up his career.

If that 10 percent comes true and the future in Phoenix looks too bleak for him to return, the franchise that signs Doan will likely be one on the verge of winning a Stanley Cup with him in the lineup, giving an edge to teams like the Canucks or Penguins.

The uncertainty around Semin is much simpler.

When asked why Semin was still on the market, one GM broke it down quite succinctly: "[He] wants too much money."

As much as Semin has been criticized by analysts for the way he plays, there is plenty of interest in a player who is capable of scoring 30 goals next season and is just 28 years old. His decline in scoring to 21 goals this past season from 40 goals two seasons ago is troubling, and it's also why he should expect a pay cut from the $6.7 million he earned last season. Right now, there appears to be a difference in opinion of what that salary should be.

In a Monday email, Semin's agent, Mark Gandler, declined to comment on Semin's timeline to get a deal done, but it could end up being connected to Doan. If teams like the Penguins and Red Wings still feel like they have an outside shot at Doan, they may not be inclined to spend that money on Semin. And if Doan leaves Phoenix, suddenly the Coyotes have to spend $12 million just to get to the salary cap floor (that likely won't exist in its current form in a few months), which means they might be willing to spend money on a scoring winger. The KHL is always an option for Semin as well, but his strong preference is to play in the NHL.

Once these chips fall, the trade market could heat up again. But as is usually the case in mid-July, it's pretty dead right now.

"There was that push for three or four days with the big free agents," one Western Conference executive said. "Now it's very quiet around the league."