So my first full season as a Sens fan in Canadaland is over, and frankly it sucked. I’ve already taken the lion’s share of the blame for this earlier in the season so I’m not about to do it again, suffice to say I’m still really, really sorry. Moving forward there are a number of things that the Senators have to do to re-establish themselves amongst the NHL elite and there are a number of questions that fans are probably asking themselves. I’ve got 5 main questions which I’ll blog about – if allowed. This is the first of them:
How do we replace Heatley?
First off, let’s pin my colours to the mast, I’m glad Heatley asked for a trade, moving forward, if handled correctly, this could be a great thing for the Senators organisation. Most Sens fans believe that one of the big four forward contracts had to be moved, Alfredsson should be truly untouchable and I don’t see anybody touching Fisher’s contract, I mean my man crush is still going strong but he IS overpaid – so that leaves Heatley and Spezza. I still think it’s easier to replace a scoring winger than a true number one centre and I also believe that we would get more back for 15 than 19.
Another thing the Heatley request means is that in a few years we won’t have to be having another Chara/Redden debate. I know we all SAY that we wanted Chara over Redden, but we also know that isn’t completely true.
Unless we manage to move into the top 3 of the draft (or maybe top 5) we aren’t going to find a player in the draft to immediately replace Heatley. That means we are going to have to replace him via a part of the trade or free agency. It’s possible that there is a mega trade out there for Heatley, a real blockbuster where we get an established top six player, a good prospect AND a draft pick, but it’s more likely we’ll have to readjust our sights and be a bit more realistic.
The two most attractive possible trade partners that have picks above us in the draft are Colorado and Los Angeles. Of course by this I mean attractive to me, who knows what Heatley and his agents are thinking, after all these are the guys who signed an exceptionally good contract less than two years ago before starting to sulk and asking for a trade AND having the cheek to say, yes we want out of this contract and we are prepared to waive the NMC that we asked you for, but only to teams that WE want to play with.
The more I think about what Heatley has done, the more I feel let down by the manner of the request but conversely the happier I am that he HAS done it. Heatley has played for two NHL teams and he has asked for a trade twice. At least he’s consistent I suppose. In fact he’s batting 1000. I know there were tragic circumstances surrounding his request to move from Atlanta, but what are his reasons here: I don’t like the fact the coach cut my ice time and I don’t like being on the second power play unit? Oh please. I think it’s more likely that he only wants the Heat On when the Heat is positive; if there is any concerted pressure from the press or the fans then he buckles like a chocolate fireguard.
Another possible reason he wants out is that Ottawa is not and never will be HIS town; Ottawa belongs to two, possibly three people. Daniel Alfredsson, Mike Fisher and Chris Phillips - these are the playing faces of this franchise, Heatley was never going to get there – maybe he wants to be somewhere where he IS the man, but with none of the pressure of BEING the man. As we say over the pond what a big girl's blouse or chemise d'une grande fille.
What would I like to see come back for him in a trade? Well Hossa, Zetterberg and Franzen would be a start, if that doesn’t work what about Crosby and Malkin for Heatley? Hell, I’d even be prepared to throw in Chris Kelly to get those deals done.
I would like to see a multiple pieces trade along the lines I mentioned earlier – player, prospect and pick please. Realistically though if Murray pulls that off he’s a genius, we might have to settle for less, but as Meat Loaf once warbled, “two out of three ain’t bad”. Ideally we could have Frolov, Teubert or Hickey and the number 5 pick from Los Angeles, but the LA assistant GM has hardly been positive when asked questions about the character of Dany Heatley. This would be the perfect trade scenario for us, a top 6 forward, a potential top 4 d-man and a high draft pick which would probably translate to Kane or MSP.
More and more though, I hope that Bryan Murray manages to get something done with Colorado that gets us pick number three. Number three gets us whichever one of Tavares, Hedman and Duchene are still available. With that we either get the only guy in the draft who can possibly step in and replace Heatley's goals immediately, a Swedish top defence pairing that could anchor our blueline for the next 6 or 7 years, or a legitimate 1 and 2 centre pairing that would compare with any in the league (except for those pesky penguins).
I’d even be happy for Bryan Murray to trade Heatley for just the number three pick. One of those players and the fact we immediately ease our cap issues would probably be worth it, but we if could possibly get the Avalanche to throw in somebody like Chris Stewart or Milan Hejduk – that would be nice.
A different option for the Heatley trade would be to trade him straight up for a top d-man that would be better for our cap situation even if all the 7.5 gets spent on the blueline but there aren’t many of those around, maybe Phaneuf would be worth it? It would be great if we could get Nashville to part with Shea Weber or Minnesota with Brent Burns but I don’t see Heatley agreeing to go to the Predators or the Wild. There’s that pesky, and apparently very flexible, NMC coming back to bite us again.
More and more I think Heatley’s replacement is coming from free agency and a lot of people seem focused on Mike Cammaleri but as long as we have a legitimate top 6 guy playing alongside Alfie and Spezza with maybe some additional cap space we should be satisfied, let’s face facts we aren’t getting a 50 goal scorer back, a trade such as Heatley for Rick Nash is highly unlikely. Another straight up (sort of) trade I’d like to see is Boyes and Backes from St Louis, but I’m not convinced that happens and of course there is yet again that frippin’ NMC to consider.
We are going to miss his goals, but we aren’t going to miss his work ethic and we aren’t going to miss his whining. Heatley asking for a trade finally gives us some cap flexibility that we would only have got from trading away Jason Spezza, and whilst I know a lot of people would have loved that, I wouldn’t.
So long Dany, thanks for the years you gave us, but you’ve really let yourself down with the classless way you and your agents have handled this situation and the way you deliberately handcuffed the Senators by going public with your pathetic whining. I’d like to think that you have irrevocably damaged your reputation, but unfortunately sports fans don’t honestly care about that sort of thing, your new team will love you and your goals and as long as you are getting exactly what you want, when you want it, I’m sure you’ll love them too.
Pip pip and cheerio