June 09 2009 11:07PM
With Dany Heatley announcing he wants out of Ottawa and into the Western conference you can bet that 14 teams in West are preparing their offer. The Wings can’t take Heatley because he makes more than Lidstrom and that goes against their policy, not to mention Zetterberg and Datsyuk make less as well.
It is rare to see a superstar traded for a superstar. The last time it happened, Heatley was dealt for Marian Hossa. In the West, there are only two players that fit the bill for this to happen again.
Rick Nash and Dion Phaneuf.
Those trades are at least plausible, although with Phaneuf only 24 and Nash 25, I wonder if the Jackets and Flames would have some reservations.
No other team in the western conference has a guy that would be a realistic option. The Ducks aren’t moving Getzlaf for Heatley. Getzlaf brings way more to the table. The Oilers, Blues, Wild, Avalanche, Stars, Canucks, Sharks and Coyotes have no one even close. Luongo has one year left on his deal, and the Sens have Leclaire locked in at $3.8 million.
Guys like Shea Weber, Duncan Keith and Anze Kopitar would get the discussion started but aren’t enough straight up.
So let’s look at some realistic options, and take into account age, salary and the Sens’ needs. Their most glaring need is a top two D-man, and those are hard to find, or at least a proven offensive D-man. They need some scoring depth, preferably a LW, but if he can score and plays C or RW they will take him.
I said the Wings are out, and I can guarantee that Heatley doesn’t want to go to the mess in Phoenix. We can argue all day about which destinations are the best, but I’d rather look at who can make viable offers.
Remember that it is very rare that teams come close to giving up fair value when acquiring a top-end talent in his prime. The Oilers fleeced the Blues when they got the Human Rake, the Ducks fleeced the Oilers for the same Rake and the Sharks fleeced the Bruins for Jumbo Joe. Ask Habs fans if they got market value for Patrick Roy.
The Blues got Brewer, Lynch and Woywitka. The Oilers got Lupul, Smid and 1st and a bonus 1st because the Ducks won the Cup. The Bruins got Sturm, Stuart and Wayne Primeau. The Habs got Kovalenko, Thibault and Rucinsky while Keane went with Roy.
One of the best players traded recently was Brad Richards to Dallas and the Lightning got Jeff Halpern, Mike Smith, Jussi Jokinen and 4th rounder for Richards and Johan Holmqvist. The odds are the Sens won’t get as big a return as many will predict in the next few weeks.
They have loads of cap space and lots of good young prospects. Would Alexander Frolov and Jack Johnson be enough? With a prospect involved it would be close, as long as Johnson doesn’t actually want $5 a season. If he does he’ll be sitting out for a long time.
Vlasic and Ehrhoff are the most attractive on the back end, but it would take them plus a good forward to get the convo started. Marleau and his $6.3 million is not a contract the Sens would want. The Sharks biggest problem is that they only have 13 guys under contract and I don’t see them parting with Boyle. Doug Wilson has a reputation of making surprise moves, so you can’t rule out the Sharks. If the Sens could get Clowe signed then I could see the Sharks getting involved, but they would have to move Marleau after because they would have way too much salary (over $52 million) tied up in 13 guys.
How good would Joe Nieuwendyk look if one of his first moves was to acquire Heatley? The Stars have cap space to play with, but do they have enough to entice the Sens? The Sens would love Morrow but I don’t see the Stars trading their captain. They have no one who is close to a top-two D-man, so I don’t see them being in the hunt.
They always seem to be involved in trades. The Whitney for Kunitz deal surprised many, but they wanted him to replace Niedermayer and the Human Rake. If they move Whitney their backend becomes pretty thin. They have three young guns in Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan, but after that they have no forwards that would entice the Sens. I think the Sens would take Ryan, but I doubt Anaheim wants to move him.
Nash straight up would be interesting, but I doubt we’ll see that. Scott Howson has some good young players and decent depth on his backend. Would a Hejda, Klesla and Voracek get the convo started? I think it might. The Sens need some depth on the backend and while neither of those two is overly offensive, they can comfortably play 20 minutes each. Rumours are swirling that the Jackets might have to trim some salary, so I wonder how it would look if they bring in a guy making $7.5 million.
They love Shea Weber and he only seems to be getting better. This would be gutsy move by the Preds, but Poile has shown a propensity to make those moves in recent years. What about Suter, Erat and Tootoo? The Sens would add just over a million in salary but they’d get three players, and Tootoo could replace Chris Neil.
Would the Blues part with young Erik Johnson? Larry Pleau would love to make a splash and get a gunner like Heatley and could make a reasonable offer of young guys. Would Jackman, Oshie and Perron be too much or not enough proven talent? The Blues have Boyes and Backes as well. I think Pleau and the Blues have to be considered a legitimate option. The only problem is if Heatley didn’t like Cory Clouston, is there any chance he’ll play for Andy Murray?
They have lots of young talent but none are proven scorers just yet. Does Dale Tallon try to speed up the process and get a sniper? Trading Keith might not seem wise, but he only has a year left before he gets a big raise. I think the Hawks could put together the best offer; the question is whether Tallon wants to let his young guys grow together or try to win now? Toews and Kane seem untouchable, but Sharp, Barker and Versteeg could still be a great package. It will be interesting to watch if Tallon gives up potential for proven value. I’d go with the proven value.
After watching them hang their coach out to dry, the expected retirement of Joe Sakic, and no top end D-man that would fit the Sens’ need I don’t see any way that rookie GM Greg Sherman gets into the sweepstakes.
Chuck Fletcher would love to land Heatley to replace Gaborik. Maybe he gives the Sens permission to talk to Gaborik and if they come to a contract agreement they trade snipers. The Sens might want another body, because of Gaborik’s health history, but a Gaborik for Heatley deal would make for a great debate on who won the deal. I don’t think Johnsson, Zidlicky or Schultz is good enough as a starting point for a three-for-one deal. Outside of the Gaborik longshot I don’t see the Wild being involved.
It is interesting to hear how Phaneuf is perceived amongst fans and the players. In a recent poll he was voted the most overrated player in the game, while many others still see him as a Norris Trophy candidate for many years to come. The only way the Flames can bring Heatley back to his home town is by dealing one of their big tickets. I can’t see them moving Iginla or Kiprusoff so that leaves Jokinen and Regehr. No chance the Sens take Jokinen, so if they don’t want to part with Phaneuf it would have to be Regehr. The problem is the Flames don’t have any forwards that would interest the Sens, unless the Sens would take Cammalleri. And if he wants over $5 million I don’t see that happening. Heatley’s parents live just outside Calgary, so the Flames will be in the hunt, but would they deal Phaneuf? Would you Flames fans?
Many of Mike Gillis’ best assets are UFAs in the Sedin Sisters and Ohlund, but could a package of Bieksa, Kesler and the speedy Raymond land him Heatley? It might, but that would leave the Canucks with eleven players signed for only $35 million, and that would end any chance of re-signing the twins. Maybe Gillis gives the Sens permission to talk to the Sisters, and if they can sign them for $11 million maybe he’d take Heatley and Filip Kuba. The Sens get some offensive depth, and the Canucks don’t trade part with a signed player. Bryan Murray will look at every option to try and keep his team competitive.
The Oilers have depth at the one position the Sens really want; offensive D-man. Souray and Visnovsky have NMC in their contract, and their age probably doesn’t intrigue the Sens, but Gilbert and Grebeshkov are two guys the Sens would like. Gilbert has more value around the league, so a package would have to start with him. Gilbert, Cogliano and Pisani would at least get them in the conversation. Maybe the Sens ask for O’Sullivan instead of Pisani. The Sens will have no interest in Penner, Horcoff or Nilsson. So that limits the Oilers in what package they can offer, but a Gilbert, Cogliano, O’Sullivan package seems comparable to what the other teams will offer.
Heatley has a 4 million dollar signing bonus due on July 1st, and since you can’t exchange money in trades, you’d expect this trade to occur before then. You’d expect Murray to move him before then, because once teams start to sign UFAs that would reduce the amount of teams that could afford Heatley’s large salary.
I think it is realistic to say that there are 10 teams in the West who have a realistic shot of offering the Sens a package they would like. The biggest hurdle will be if Heatley agrees to go to that team. To me it is absolutely ridiculous that a player asks for a no-trade clause and then one year later wants to get traded.
Either way many teams, and their fans, will be hoping to land one of the few proven snipers in the league.