Breaking down Dany Heatley’s trade: What does it mean for the Ottawa Senators?

September 12th, 2009 by Fantana Leave a reply »

Finally, after an entire summer of Dany Heatley trade rumours, the disgruntled winger got traded for the second time and this time, to the team he wanted to play for all along.

The deal is Dany Heatley and a 5th Round Pick to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo and a 2nd Round Pick (both picks are for the 2010 Draft).

What this means for San Jose
On first glance, San Jose gets the biggest single upgrade of any team this summer. Sorry Chicago, but Heatley is better than Hossa. I think this trade has to be incredibly exciting for Sharks fans, who were promised change from Sharks GM Doug Wilson this summer. Obviously, the success or failure of this trade will ultimately come down to the chemistry that Joe Thornton can build with Dany Heatley. If they can look like the Thornton/Cheechoo line from a few years ago, the Sharks will once again be a strong contender for the Stanley Cup. The price for Heatley was pretty steep though, as it cost San Jose two of their Top 6 forwards. Here’s how their offense will look this year:

  • Heatley – Thornton – Setoguchi
  • ___ – Marleau – Clowe

Looking through San Jose’s roster, it just looks like they’re missing a piece to the puzzle. Unless they’ve got a great, unknown rookie who can step right in, that second line might be in trouble. Do you put a guy like Joe Pavelski in there? You could and you would probably have, as he seems like a logical fit on that line. Keep in mind, he’s a natural centre and may not adjust as well to the wing. An injury to any of these forwards would be a big blow to San Jose’s firepower because they don’t have anyone who can jump in and fill that hole.

Upon first glance, it looks like the Sharks have taken a big step forward but when you look a little deeper, I’m not so sure that’s the case. This trade certainly does eat into their depth and for this deal to make sense, Heatley will have to replace both Cheechoo and Michalek’s offense. They scored 86 points combined last year, and Cheechoo was hurt for most of the year. Good luck, Dany!

What this means for Ottawa
Ottawa picks up two players who can help the team immediately. Michalek is a former 1st Round pick and I think we all know what Jonathan Cheechoo can do, when he’s healthy. I really hope he’s healthy this year. I like this trade from a Sens standpoint because it provides depth on offense and this is something that they’ve really missed over the past couple seasons. This trade also insulates Mike Fisher. Fisher is a great 3rd line centre who can plug a hole on the 2nd line when needed, but he’s can’t quite get the job done on his own. A trade like this will help Fisher and Ottawa’s 2nd line. Here’s how I see Ottawa’s top 3 lines this season:

  • Cheechoo – Spezza – Kovalev
  • Alfredsson – Fisher – Michalek
  • Foligno – Kelly – Peter Regin/Zach Smith

Actually, now that I see the lines laid out, I really like this trade. I just hope Spezza can hop aboard the Cheechoo train quickly!

What this means for Bryan Murray
Full marks to Bryan Murray on this trade. I really mean that. Trading Heatley was not an easy task, especially since it was such a public event. It’s almost impossible to get a good return when you’re trading from a position of weakness but I think Murray has succeeded not only in bring more depth to Ottawa’s offense, but also by generating a return that will match Heatley’s output. What I’m saying, is that I think Cheechoo and Michalek can score as many goals this year as Heatley did last year. I also think that this return is better than what Edmonton was offering, and it’s definitely better than the rumoured trade from Thursday night of Stoll and Frolov from Los Angeles.

Salary Cap Issues
Finally, trading Heatley frees up about $7.5 Million in cap space for Ottawa, while Michalek and Cheechoo’s combined salaries are slightly over $7 Million for the upcoming season. What does this mean? Well, Jason Smith’s retirement dropped Ottawa just under the cap and by shedding $500,000 on this trade, Ottawa has got a little more wiggle room, though it’s still not much. So, my gut feeling is there may be another, smaller deal in the works. I’m thinking a guy like Schubert could be the odd man out.

Your reporter in the field,

Fantana

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17 comments

  1. Jeremy says:

    Fantastic insight. Considering you just got this up, well done. Great post!

  2. Got Stanley? says:

    As I said on Twitter, I think everyone wins on this one. Cheechoo was just not getting it done for the Sharks, and while Michalek wasn’t bad, I think the Sharks were looking for a fresh injection to shake things up, and they’ll definitely get that in Heatley.

    One thing tho – the money breaks out really close to even, according to CapGeek.com. Cheechoo pulls down 3.0, Michalek pulls down 4.33. By trading Heatley at 7.5, the Sens don’t get a lot of cap space short-term. What they get is flexibility for next season – Cheechoo’s only got one more year on his contract, where both Michalek and Heatley are signed through 2014. So, it’s even more likely that another trade is in the offing for the Sens if they need to clear more cap room.

    Looking at CapGeek.com (which BTW is an AWESOME resource), it looks like the Sens are about 900K under plus have about 490K in their bonus cushion. I think they may not make any more moves; I don’t know what Binghamton looks like for you guys in regards to talent ready to come up.

    But … if you do trade, see if you can steal Jordin Tootoo from Nashville, for no other reason than because a Ruutu-Cheechoo-Tootoo line would provide hours of line-naming entertainment. :)

  3. Mitch says:

    Just wondering I was looking at your lines and woudn’t we want to leave Shannon on the third line considering Shannon had 20 point in 35 games last year.

  4. Brick says:

    Actually, Pavelski is already on the teams second line.

    I believe Cheechoo was playing bottom-6 minutes last season unless one of Thornton, Marleau, Setoguchi, Michalek, Pavelski and Clowe.

    I think their top-6 last year looked like:

    Marleau-Thornton-Setoguchi
    Clowe-Pavelski-Michalek

    So Heatley bumps Marleau down, and Clowe moves to the right side.

  5. Brick says:

    I meant to say unless one of Thornton, Marleau, Setoguchi, Michalek, Pavelski and Clowe was injured.

    Man, I’m glad this finally over, but come on, a 2nd round pick? And Ottawa still has to give up a 5th? It should’ve at least been

    Michalek
    Cheechoo
    1st rdp

    for Heatley straight up.

    or

    Michalek
    Cheechoo
    2nd rdp
    Couture

    for

    Heatley
    5th rdp

    or

    Michalek
    Clowe
    2rdp

    for

    Heatley
    5th rdp

  6. Tambland says:

    I think I read on http://www.senschirp.ca that the meeting between Heatley and Murray was not exactly cordial, so I think this was just Murray finally saying, ‘just get out of here.’

    So while we might have gotten more, let us just rejoice that this is finally over!

  7. Fantana says:

    @ Got Stanley – You’re right. In terms on actual salary cap relief, the Sens don’t really get any. My main thought is that to only have $1.3M of cap space left going into a season isn’t much. I think most teams would feel more comfortable going into a season with $2-3 Million of available cap space. This also assumes that Murray can spend up to the league maximum.

    @ Mitch – Good call on Shannon. It remains to be seen he can generate that production over a full season, but he deserves at least a look on the 3rd line. Perhaps neither Regin or Smith start the year with Ottawa and Shannon takes that spot. It’s also possible that Chris Neal takes that spot. $2.3M is a lot to pay a 4th liner.

    @ Brick – Yeah, I think Cheechoo was playing more on the 3rd line or seeing that kind of ice time. So while the trade doesn’t necessarily impact the way the top 2 lines look, it really impacts their depth. If/when San Jose’s forwards get hurt, then you’ll really see the potential hurt of this trade.

    I’m sure Murray wanted to get either Marleau or Thornton on this deal but there’s no way that was going to happen. I like what Murray got for Heatley, but it sure would’ve been nice to get a 1st Rounder pick in there. Obviously, time was a big constraint here and I think it was the right call to unload Heatley now rather than have another season full of dressing room distractions.

  8. Sens19 says:

    The Sharks will be lethal this season but at the same time we’ve improved a lot. With the new additions, not only do we have more balanced scoring but we’re going to have much better PKing and PP

  9. jeanshorts says:

    I disagree that this is a better trade than the rumored LA one. Frolov and Michalek are more or less a wash, though I’d personally rather have Frolov.
    But Cheechoo has been on a STEEP decline the last 2 seasons. He was injured but I doubt we’ll ever see him back in his Richard winning form. Stoll on the other hand is a more than serviceable 3rd/2nd line guy. Although it looks like the Sens are all ready pretty deep up the middle, I think Stoll would be a better option than Kelly.

    Regardless I think the Sens are better off finally getting rid of the distraction this whole nonsense has caused.

    You think Heatley is going to whine when Thornton forgets to show up for the playoffs yet again?

  10. Brick says:

    @ Tambaland

    I am EXTREMELY grateful this has finally happened!

    I think overall the team is better, especially since most of us expected that we would be starting the season with a black cloud over everyone’s head.

    The distraction is gone, and we brought in two solid dressing room guys that should help diversify the scoring.

    If Michalek can score 25-30 and Cheechoo can score 10-15, they will have effectively replaced Heatley (who’s averaged 40 goals the past two seasons). Add in Kovalev (hopefully good for 20 goals), the maturation of Foligno (should finally hit 20 goals), a possible bounceback from Fisher (last season was most likely an aberration, as he’s been a consistent 20 goal scorer since the lock-out) and you’ve got solid secondary scoring. Throw in Shannon, Zubov and Regin who will be fighting for a spot in the top 9, and scoring shouldn’t be a problem.

    Clouston seems capable of getting this group to develop a solid two-way team game.

    And so. if the goaltending can stay solid and consistent, this team should bounceback. I see them competing for the 5th to 8th seeds.

  11. Burgundy says:

    @Jeanshorts – Not sure, but he may appreciate Spezza and Alfredsson a little more by next April if not sooner.

    @Brick – Bang on. I couldn’t agree more with your last comment. That’s exactly how I see the Senators 09-10 season unfolding!

    Good job Bryan Murray! This deal didn’t set the franchise back, nor did it make the Sens a laughing stock for how it was handled. I bet even Brian Burke would be impressed.

  12. Got Stanley? says:

    @Fantana: This is very true, that $1.3m is a little (okay, a lot) short to go into the season with. Another trade certainly isn’t impossible, but it’s not a must. (For reference, the Caps went into the season last year with $770K in salary cap headroom and carrying a roster of 22. They were fourth in the league in man-games lost to injury last season and still managed 108 points and a trip to the semi-finals, and took the Pens to seven games. It can be done, it just takes wizardry.)

    I still have to wonder about Ottawa’s blueline, though. What might happen there?

  13. Charly says:

    I love that he said he had no choice but to ask for a trade even after the trade was made… Did he kill another best friend in a car accident in Ottawa that we’re unaware of….. too soon?

  14. Brick says:

    It’s probably always going to be too soon to make jokes about those kinds of tragedies.

    Lots of rumours swirled about why Heatley asked to be traded. But realistically, you have to think that if there was a personal reason it would have to be so bad as to make Dany rather look like a complete prima-donna and come out and say the reason he wanted out was because he was bumped down to the second power play unit and poo-pooed a trade to Edmonton because he wanted more “options” before making a decision.

    This is the large problem in Ottawa. The Black Aces blog wrote a great article that touches upon this. Any time a player struggles, there are rumous about their off-ice conduct. Wade Redden was a pillar both on the blue-line and in the community for over 10 years, but his play declined (seemingly) after his mother passed away. He was constantly accused of being a coke-head. The situation is not as bad as in Montreal, but it is still an issue.

    Let’s just be thankful to have an NHL team, That hockey is almost back, and that this whole situation is settled.

  15. Fantana says:

    @ Got Stanley – I think Ottawa’s got their forwards set for the year. But I’m also wondering about their blue line. It seems like the top 6 are set, but with Jason Smith’s departure, I feel like they’re missing a body or two back there. Schubert could drop back to defense, which would help, but I still wouldn’t be surprised to see Ottawa trade a forward to pick up a 6th/7th defenceman.

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