Dany Heatley: Not Quite “Free To A Good Home”

Jonathan Willis
June 09 2009 01:29PM

Heatley

The comment section in yesterday’s post was abuzz (I may be stretching the term “abuzz”) with the news that Dany Heatley has requested a trade out of Ottawa.

E.J Hradek of ESPN had this to say:

Is Senators winger Dany Heatley seeking his ticket out of Ottawa? Sources tell me that is the case. According to those sources, Ottawa GM Bryan Murray has been notified of Heatley's desire for a change of scenery and is mulling his options. On the record, though, Murray said Heatley is still a Senator. "We signed him to a long-term deal and we expect him to honor it," Murray told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun on Tuesday morning. "At this point in time, he's a Senator." Murray could retool the Senators' roster by moving Heatley. Of course, any trading partner would have to have the budget room necessary to accommodate the remaining five years of Heatley's deal, which counts for $7.5 million against the cap. Heatley is thought to be interested in a move to the Western Conference.

The last two seasons have been relatively difficult for Heatley, who has seen a dip in his scoring. Of course, he’s still a point per game player:

  • 2005-06: 82GP – 50G – 53A – 103PTS, +29
  • 2006-07: 82GP – 50G – 55A – 105PTS, +31
  • 2007-08: 71GP – 41G – 41A – 82PTS, +33
  • 2008-09: 82GP – 39G – 33A – 72PTS, -11

I don’t think Heatley’s quite the two-way player that his +/- from 2005-08 would seem to indicate; but frankly, I don’t care. He doesn’t need to be entirely sheltered, and he’s among the best players in the entire league at scoring goals and racking up points against the secondary toughs.

This is also a case of buying while the price is right; Heatley’s numbers were artificially deflated last season by the percentages – something that’s unlikely to happen again. As one example, his on-ice even-strength save percentage was .899 - .910 was the team average, and as Vic Ferrari has shown that’s almost certainly not his fault. His on-ice even-strength shooting percentage was 6.3% - the Senators averaged 7.6%, and that’s another number that almost certainly isn’t Heatley’s fault. Heatley also posted his worst personal shooting percentage since his rookie season (15.1%) – he typically converts 16%+ of shots that he makes. His +/- was further damaged by a number of empty-net goals against.

I’ll grant that Heatley generally gets run out in the offensive zone, something that inflates his numbers and that despite that he doesn’t drive possession like he really should, but he’s so lethal from the blueline in that it almost doesn’t matter; he’s one of the few players talented enough that they can get outchanced and still outscore almost any opposition.

People talk about Vincent Lecavalier, but I’m not sure why Heatley doesn’t rate higher on most lists. He has two 100-point seasons to Lecavalier’s one, two 50-goal seasons to Lecavalier’s one, four seasons with at least 40 goals to Lecavalier’s two, and he’s done most of it in a much tougher division to boot.

Heatley’s cheaper than Lecavalier and his contract expires sooner; he’s still a bit overpriced given the fact that he’s not really a guy who can be leaned on in all three zones but guys do get paid for offense and even in a bad year Heatley’s going to score more than 35 goals.  The other consideration is his position; there are far more centres near the point-per-game mark than there are left wingers.

As for what Ottawa would want in exchange, I’d guess that it is a lot. Fortunately for the Oilers, the Senators’ position of greatest need is on the back end, not up front; so a defenseman could be the centre-piece of the deal. I’d guess that Ottawa would ask for Gilbert, and the Oilers would need to toss in more. Could Gilbert, Cogliano and Eberle get that trade done? Perhaps, although it wouldn’t surprise me if the pot needed to be richer still – possibly by inserting a player like Patrick O’Sullivan in place of Eberle. I’d be on the fence about making that latter trade. Ideally of course the Senators would be willing to take Dustin Penner back in any trade, but somehow I don’t see that happening.

One thing is for certain – the Oilers should not be willing to send Ales Hemsky the other way. Hemsky would seem to be a perfect complement for Heatley; the ideal passer to setup a triggerman of his ability. There’s also the salary cap to consider; Heatley is not inexpensive (7.5 million a season until 2013-14) and Ales Hemsky is a bargain given his skill level. If he were dealt, the Oilers would face a hole at RW; a hole that would not be nearly so cheap to fill.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Chris
June 09 2009, 01:35PM
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I've already "blow my wad" so to speak all over the last two blog-rolls. C'mon Willis. You gotta get these articles down to a thirty second response time!

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#2 dyckster
June 09 2009, 01:40PM
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Problem is, as several others have said on JG's "The Numbers Game" post, Mr. Heatley will likely have a lot of say as to where he ends up. Oh Danny boy please come home (well 3 hours north of home anyway)!

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#3 Chris
June 09 2009, 01:45PM
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Heatley has a no trade clause...BuT if he is willing to go to Edmonton (For whatever reason) GIT R DUN! The Oilers would improve instantly even with a massive overpay... provided of course that Tambellini keeps Hemsky. One of our PMD's + O'Sullivan would be ideal. If they want Cogliano and a PMD... Then the Oil would have to dump Salary...(How about O'Sullivan for Harding?) Keep Hemsky. Keep Gagner. Keep your first round pick. Everything and anything else (within reason): FAIR GAME!

Sorry if I've said this before... but it's a new and appropriate blog roll. I'm sure many of us will have to re-state our positions.

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#4 Jonathan Willis
June 09 2009, 01:50PM
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Chris wrote:

You gotta get these articles down to a thirty second response time!

I do have a day job, you know ;)

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#5 Jonathan Willis
June 09 2009, 01:51PM
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The fact that Heatley's supposedly interested in coming out west is interesting, and could work in Edmonton's favour.

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#6 Adam
June 09 2009, 01:53PM
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It was kinda talked about in the last thread, but wouldn't you agree, JW, that when a player asks for a trade (especially one with an NTC) the team loses a lot of control in what they can reasonably expect in return? Look at Edmonton and the Pronger trade. I understand that we have to make a competitive offer, but Gilbert, Cogs, and Picks/Prospects is an offer that would be an offer lots of teams would struggle matching.

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#7 Ogden Brother
June 09 2009, 01:56PM
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He's one of only a handful of guys accross the league that you can ignore his defensive game, he'd be my #2 priority add (of players resonably available) next to Kovalchuk.

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#8 misfit
June 09 2009, 01:56PM
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I'm all for trying as hard as possible to get Heatley as long as the price to aquire him doesn't include Hemsky.

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#9 JRocks247
June 09 2009, 01:57PM
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Gilbert-Cogs-Schremph-2nd rounder? Don't like giving up picks but I wouldn't hate this.

Gotta find a way to get Harding and John Madden too then all will be fine in the land of Oildrops.

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#10 Colin
June 09 2009, 01:58PM
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Landing Heatley would be a massive coup for the Oilers.

Not only would he give the team a bonafide star player he would also make the team considerably more attractive to free agents as well.

add a 3rd line centre and tweak the bottom 6 and the team would be looking pretty solid IMO.

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#11 misfit
June 09 2009, 01:59PM
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Maybe it's just me, but I can't realistically see him going anywhere but Los Angeles when it's all said and done.

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#12 Big Deal
June 09 2009, 02:01PM
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Give Ottawa whatever they would like!!! Heatley would be the first true goal scorer the Oilers have had since Kurri. Make the deal and make it now. Whether it is Gilbert-Cogs-Schremf-Gagner or Rod Phillips, make the trade the Oilers would be better with Heatley then without him.

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#13 Jonathan Willis
June 09 2009, 02:03PM
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misfit wrote:

Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t realistically see him going anywhere but Los Angeles when it’s all said and done.

I wonder. The lustre seems to be off Jack Johnson, and while the Kings could offer up Frolov I think the Senators would probably prefer a defenseman as the centre piece.

I'm just guessing, of course.

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#14 Chris
June 09 2009, 02:03PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: I posted this elsewhere... But could you imagine the pressure that would be placed on Horcoff should Tambellini aquire Heatley? Not only would he be expected to cover for the defensive shortcommings of both Hemsky and Heatley... he'd be expected to produce offensively at an even higher rate than when he signed that extension! OUCH!

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#15 HBomb
June 09 2009, 02:06PM
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I'd put everything and everyone not named Hemsky or Gagner in play to get Heatley in Oiler colors.

Ideal scenario is a salary-equal trade for Penner and one of Visnovsky/Souray plus other assets that allows the Oilers to still make a pitch for Bouwmeester.

Pull off the Heater/J-Bo "double" and this team is set for a long, long time.

And if Heatley and Hemsky are the wings, I think that would bring a permanent end to the debate of "is Horcoff good enough as first-line center". Or at least I hope it would!

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#16 Adam
June 09 2009, 02:07PM
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@ Chris:

Well I actually think this works better for Horcoff. As JW mentioned Heater is one of the few guys who can get massively out-chanced but still out score his opposition, so really the only thing you have to do is have Horc as the high forward, and go from there.

As for his offensive totals, how can playing with Hemmer and Heater not improve your offense?

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#17 Lofty
June 09 2009, 02:09PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

The fact that Heatley’s supposedly interested in coming out west is interesting, and could work in Edmonton’s favour.

Do you really think that Ottawa would be asking for so much in return given the limitations that Heater has put on them? He has norrowed it down to 16 teams with several that you could write off immediatly.

IMO I would have to be able to dump one of our bad cap guys to make a deal for such a rich contract. Penner or Horcoff would have to go. If Murray takes either one he can have anyone except Hemsky and Visnovsky. I would let Gagner go since he will most likely not become a better player than Heatly. 2 for 1 and maybe a 2nd round draft pick.

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#18 J-Bird
June 09 2009, 02:09PM
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If somehow Ottawa can land more for Heatley than Pronger did for Edmonton after declaring his trade request, after going to the finals, with his cheap contract, I'd be shocked and suprised. I really would.

He was arguably one of the best Dmen in the game, and K-Lowe got Smid, Lupul, and a couple of pics. Or maybe that tells you just how bad Lowe was as a GM.

But if he can be had, then get it done. A true LW sniper. I'm curious how many points Hemmer would put up with a guy like that? This team makes too many deals like the Pronger one for "tomorrow" (pics and prospects) instead of deals for some "today". As a ticket holder, I'm sick of this 2 decade rebuild that's gone on.

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#19 JRocks247
June 09 2009, 02:11PM
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@ J-Bird: 2 decade rebuild?....2006

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#20 The Menace
June 09 2009, 02:12PM
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@ J-Bird: It would be nice to have someone score 50 here more recently than Craig Simpson!

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#21 Jonathan Willis
June 09 2009, 02:12PM
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As for Horcoff's position in a Heatley/Hemsky universe, I'm not even sure he'd be on the same line.

Heatley - Gagner - Hemsky: almost exclusively offensive zone draws O'Sullivan/Moreau - Horcoff - Pisani: almost exclusively defensive zone draws

Just one possibility; I'm still on the fence about it.

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#22 HBomb
June 09 2009, 02:15PM
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JW: I wouldn't do that with Gagner until after this season and he's signed to an extension.

Giving him soft minutes with an elite playmaker and sniper would drive the cost of his new contract through the roof.

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#23 Chris
June 09 2009, 02:15PM
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@ Adam: Horc would have to skate 1000km's a night; as neither Hemsky nor Heatley have shown much of an interest in backchecking over their respective careers. Also... Horcoff's overall skill level/puckhandling ability may be somewhat exposed playing with those two. It would just be a LOT of responsibility for a player coming off a rather forgetable season.

If Tambellini were to trade away a top four D and a top six forward to aquire Heatley... The first line simply MUST produce... If foer some reason it doesn't right away; we all know where the fingers will be pointing.

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#24 Chris
June 09 2009, 02:18PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

As for Horcoff’s position in a Heatley/Hemsky universe, I’m not even sure he’d be on the same line.

IMO I don't think Gagner is ready. Quinn would probably give Horc the first look; hence the pressure comment. It would be a fun problem to have.

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#25 Chris
June 09 2009, 02:20PM
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@ HBomb: Nice.

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#26 Jason Gregor
June 09 2009, 02:22PM
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IF you want to hear Ottawa's take, veteran reporter and a guy who knows Heatley well, Chris Stevenson, will be on my show today at 3:10 MST...you can listen on THE TEAM 1260 or on line xxx.justagame.ca

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#27 DaveS
June 09 2009, 02:25PM
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My Blockbuster deal:

O’Sullivan Visnovsky Eberle Negotiating Rights to Kotalik

for

Heatley Volchenkov (UFA at end of next season) Negotiating Rights to chris neil

Thoughts?

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#28 Lofty
June 09 2009, 02:25PM
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If im a GM in the Western conference I sure hope I land him because apart from the Avs he can make any team a conference contender

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#29 Ogden Brother
June 09 2009, 02:32PM
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Lofty wrote:

If im a GM in the Western conference I sure hope I land him because apart from the Avs he can make any team a conference contender

What about Ottawa?

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#30 Milt
June 09 2009, 02:35PM
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so Heatly wants out of OTT and somehow you guys imagine he actually would have interest in moving to EDM! sounds like crazy talk...

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#31 The Towel Boy
June 09 2009, 02:37PM
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Who saw this coming!?! (I did..I'm from the future)

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#32 Lofty
June 09 2009, 02:37PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

What about Ottawa?

Big picture or small picture? other than last year Ottawa has been holding a very respectable position in the east. You cant tell me that he isnt a difference maker. Goalie problems were the main reason the sens were terrible last year.

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#33 The Towel Boy
June 09 2009, 02:38PM
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@ Milt:

How long have you been around here? It's what we do.

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#34 The Menace
June 09 2009, 02:38PM
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@ Milt: Hey Milt - don't be a buzzkill, man! why don't you follow the Make-A-Wish guys around and take away their hope too.

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#35 The Menace
June 09 2009, 02:39PM
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@ Lofty: I'm glad we don't have any goalie problems to worry about!

*facepalm

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#36 Chaz
June 09 2009, 02:43PM
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I'm not so sure about Heatley....Just like Wolves, I don't trust people with Multi-colored eyes.

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#37 J-Bird
June 09 2009, 02:46PM
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@ JRocks247:

8th Place team is a dynasty?

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#38 JRocks247
June 09 2009, 02:46PM
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Chaz wrote:

Just like Wolves, I don’t trust people with Multi-colored eyes.

Are you saying wolves don't trust people?

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#39 Chris
June 09 2009, 02:46PM
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Chaz wrote:

I’m not so sure about Heatley….Just like Wolves, I don’t trust people with Multi-colored eyes.

Horcoff to.

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#40 Chester Copperpot
June 09 2009, 02:46PM
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When Heatly tells Murray that it's either him or the coach, do you really think Murray is going to choose the coach?

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#41 JRocks247
June 09 2009, 02:48PM
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@ J-Bird: Not saying a Dynasty...but you rebuild till you can make a run at the cup, then rinse, then repeat. Not every team other than Detroit is in a rebuild

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#42 Chaz
June 09 2009, 02:56PM
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@ JRocks247: No I was saying that Wolves don't trust over paid hockey players with multi-colored eyes...although now that Chris reminded me that Horcs has the Wolf eyes too, perhaps it's not a bad idea. Should be good for the "Highest Number of Players on One Line with Different Colored Eyes" record. It might freak out Hemmer though...

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#43 Ogden Brother
June 09 2009, 02:58PM
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Lofty wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: What about Ottawa? Big picture or small picture? other than last year Ottawa has been holding a very respectable position in the east. You cant tell me that he isnt a difference maker. Goalie problems were the main reason the sens were terrible last year.

Two years in a row they were terrible.

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#44 Downright Fierce
June 09 2009, 03:00PM
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My guess: Heatley stays in the Capital.

B-Murr is gonna have a ball watching the entire Western Conference fumble over themselves trying to put a package together... Then he'll say, "No."

Barring some miracle deal that gets spun out on Draft Day, I really don't see it happening for any team (let alone the Oilers). Having said that, I do think the Oil have the best pieces to fit the hypothetical Heater-less Sens squad, but do we have the cap room? Unless we're talking about Souray/Visnovski going, I'm pretty sure the numbers aren't copacetic.

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#45 DBO
June 09 2009, 03:06PM
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Wow. now for 5 million trade scenaro's! i'll add one later, but first about heatley. He doesn't bring the physical element we want, but he's one of the top 5 goal scorers in the league, he's 28 this year, and you can expect at least 35 goals from him. That is something we haven't had in a decade. And at least he's not a smurf, he immediately improves our PP and he's also a guy who dosn't like to carry the puck so he'd fit with Hemsky.

On to the deal. If you are trying to send them Penner's deal, then you've got to add a high pick. If not, you may be forced to move Vishnovski instead of Gilbert.

Gilbert, Penner, Eberle and a 2nd rd pick for Heatley and Jason Smith

You clear Penner's deal, but have to take back Smith. Dollars are almost equal, you bring back a huge leader in Smith (who is on the down slide, but you eat his deal to make it work). You basically give Quinn a veteran defense and you get Heatley. Smith's deal comes off the books after next year (when we have to pay Gagner), and it allows you to move Moreau without losing "leadership".

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#46 The Menace
June 09 2009, 03:06PM
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Does Heater have any connection to the Oilers' new coaching staff?

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#47 DBO
June 09 2009, 03:12PM
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The connection is Hockey Canada. One thing I mentioned when we hired the Quinn-Renney combo, the hockey canada connection is something that can really work in our favour.

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#48 sittingatmydesk
June 09 2009, 03:15PM
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@ DBO: quinn got rid of Smith in toronto 10 years ago

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#49 misfit
June 09 2009, 03:16PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

As for Horcoff’s position in a Heatley/Hemsky universe, I’m not even sure he’d be on the same line. Heatley - Gagner - Hemsky: almost exclusively offensive zone draws O’Sullivan/Moreau - Horcoff - Pisani: almost exclusively defensive zone draws Just one possibility; I’m still on the fence about it.

I don't see how you couldn't play Horcoff on that line. Heatley was on a pretty sucessful first line in Ottawa, in large part thanks to Alfredsson, and Horcoff is the closest thing to Alfredsson we've got. Hemmer would of course be the "Spezza" on that line as well as on the powerplay.

Any line with Hemsky and Heatley is going to need someone who can get them the puck, and they're also going to need a guy who can stop it from going the wrong way. I don't see Gagner doing either of those things regardless of what end of the rink they're starting on.

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#50 GSC
June 09 2009, 03:17PM
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I'd take Heater in a heartbeat, but there has to be some salary going back the other way. It's that simple, there's simply not enough cap room to make it happen otherwise.

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