Dany Heatley got his wish today, as Ottawa Senators General Manager Bryan Murray traded the disgruntled forward and a fifth round pick to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for forwards Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo, and a second round pick. Since the sticking point all along was reportedly that the Senators did not want to accept Cheechoo in any trade back, it appears Murray finally just gave in and made the deal.
Winner: San Jose Sharks
San Jose brings in a forward whose character has taken a real drubbing over the past few months, but they are also bringing in one of the best pure scorers in the NHL today. Heatley’s track record is well known, and the two-time 50-goal/100-point scorer gets the job done both on the powerplay and at even-strength. His reputation for indifferent defensive play, as well as his penchant for taking undisciplined penalties are both problems, but Heatley’s offensive ability is more than enough to tip the scales in his favour.
He may be the best player from the blueline in currently playing in the NHL.
The Sharks now have the luxury of running Heatley out with Thornton, or separating their chief scorers and running two high-octane lines.
Winner, for now: Dany Heatley
Heatley was traded to his destination of choice, but it remains to be seen if this is a pyrrhic victory. Sharks fans were understandably angry following the team’s first-round playoff collapse, and while that anger was directed all over the roster, the chief focus was Joe Thornton, who has been labelled a regular-season only player. There have also been an abundance of theories that the players in the Sharks dressing room are lacking in character, and Heatley won’t help that assessment.
After poisoning his reputation with virtually every fan in Canada, and being spoken out agianst by people like Kings GM Dean Lombardi, Heatley needs to have immediate success, or his time in San Jose could become just as uncomfortable as his time in Ottawa – and if that happens, he may have burned too many bridges to ever find a home he’ll be comfortable in.
Loser: Ottawa Senators
In this particular game of chicken, Bryan Murray blinked. It’s difficult to blame him, since he seems to have been got in a rather nasty web, but at the end of the day he took an offer that was simply too low – particularly in comparison to the package he would have received from the Edmonton Oilers.
Milan Michalek is the best part of the package coming back from the Sharks. He spent almost no time with Joe Thornton last season, but still managed to land in the 25-goal/60-point range on the season, playing with Ryan Clowe and Joe Pavelski. He’s signed to a relatively fair 4.33MM/yr contract for the next five years, so Ottawa at least managed to bring back one long-term asset in this trade. He’s a very nice player, albeit not in Heatley’s class.
Jonathan Cheechoo simply isn’t the player that he once was; injuries have robbed the effectiveness of the one-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner. It remains to be seen if he can rebound to the 20-goal/40-point range. His success this past season was entirely dependant on Joe Thornton; here are his line’s even-strength splits with and without Thornton:
- With Thornton: 3.885 goals per 60 minutes of ice-time
- Without Thornton: 1.566 goals per 60 minuts of ice-time
That means that Jonathan Cheechoo was less than half as likely to score a goal playing without Thornton as he was when lined up beside him. At this point, his 3MM/yr contract represents an overpayment, and unless he can recapture his form – perhaps by playing with Spezza – his value is negligible given the cap space he takes up.