The Dany Heatley Saga: Marathon or Death March?

Jonathan Willis
July 14 2009 11:11AM

marathon

“Oil trade for Dany still alive” proclaims the Ottawa Sun, “but it could be slammed shut soon”.

Why (or perhaps "for the love of all that is good and holy why can't this be over already"), you ask ? Because, according to journalist Chris Stevenson, “an NHL source indicated yesterday the Oilers' patience is wearing thin to have Heatley agree to a deal and they could give up and move on perhaps as early as today.”

No doubt this would be welcome news to some – even many – Oilers fans, but I wouldn’t get too excited about it just yet, because of a Dan Barnes article we talked about a few days ago. Quoting Barnes:

The source also said the Oilers had not imposed an internal deadline for a firm resolution of this ridiculously untenable situation. Nor had they communicated such an ultimatum to the Senators or Heatley. That rumour had been floated last week by a TV analyst and at least one Internet site. "Could be a week, could be a month," said the source.

That was three days ago.

So, when two anonymous league sources are reported as saying two conflicting things, which is to be believed? It’s up to everyone individually of course, but given that it’s an Edmonton rumour I think it would be foolish not to trust the Edmonton-based (and Edmonton-connected) reporter on this one. It’s possible that the situation has drastically shifted over those three days, but Barnes’ source seems to rule out a sudden shift like that – certainly not one that would see the Oilers abandon the pursuit a few days later (“possibly as early as today”, according to Stevenson).

Stevenson also includes this factoid:

Rumours are there are at least two other teams which have recently held discussions with Senators GM Bryan Murray but have only offered bloated contracts and underachieving players in return.

Dan Barnes also mentioned two teams, so we can view this information as probably true. Barnes said they hadn’t finalized an offer, while Stevenson says that they aren’t offering much of value – which sounds to me like two different ways of saying the same thing.

The last part of Stevenson’s piece that I’d like to look at is not to criticize him, but just to highlight the difficulty of sorting through rumours in general. Here’s the quote:

Speculation is the Minnesota Wild remains a team looking for an offensive addition and the Columbus Blue Jackets have been named in connection with the unhappy winger.

Stevenson is careful to couch all of his paragraphs so that it’s clear he’s passing along speculation, and in this case we can be fairly certain that the speculation is inaccurate, because of what Columbus GM Scott Howson said to Dan Tencer a few days ago:

"We're not involved in that scene. It's an unfortunate situation for everybody involved."

In other words, for better and worse, I continue to believe that the Oilers are ardent in their pursuit of Heatley, despite today’s conflicting report from Stevenson.

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Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#151 Ogden Brother
July 15 2009, 11:29AM
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Curious wrote:

There might be a little more to the strategy of waiting… there are a few teams up against the cap. Top of the list is Philly. The longer you wait, the more desperate they become to shed salary and perhaps you get the player you are waiting for at a cheaper price. As long as you express interest (which I am sure Tambo is doing) the GM of the other team will always come back to you if he is getting close with another team. We all need to relax and be patient

Philly still has 2 million in room with 3 bit holes to fill.

As far as I know the only team currently over is Ott.

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#152 MattL
July 15 2009, 11:30AM
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scorecoff hemmercules wrote:

smiliegirl15 wrote: It’s my understanding Glencross signed for less in Calgary than he was asking for in Edmonton. Im pretty sure he got a couple hundred thousand more to play in Calgary, why would a player like him take less money to play anywhere???

He was asking close to 2, and is playing for 1.2/year. I'm pretty sure the Oilers offered at least 1.2/year.

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#153 rindog
July 15 2009, 11:31AM
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@ oilersseasonticketholdersince99: oilersseasonticketholdersince99 wrote:

The point you are missing is this organization should build from with in,if they want a star it will have to come from drafting,and instead of trading guys after one year of playing here give them a couple of years, I am a big believer that Penner will have a break out year this season without having to skate with Mac t on his back you just watch.My question to you is why are we still trying to get Heatley when it is apparent to everyone that he does not want to come here if he did he would have been here allready.

Can I ask you a question? How has that rebuilding from with project going?

With the exception of the Red Wings (who must have fortune tellers for european scouts) most NHL teams have to acquire their talent or miss the playoffs all the time. Of course if you finish out of the playoffs you are bound to a get a good pick once in while.

I agree that Penner could have a great year this year - but I am not willing to risk it at the expense of landing one of the ultimate goal scorers in the league.

Again, I hate to bring this up time and again - but until you can show me proof that Heatley hates Edmonton or that he told the Oilers to piss off - you really shouldn't speculate as to what has gone on.

Would Edmonton be your first on your list of destinations to play?

Give the GM some credit and appreciate that he is trying to make our club better.

If you can honestly say that we are a better hockey team without Dany Heatley (all the drama aside) then we have a totally different debate....

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#154 Ogden Brother
July 15 2009, 11:43AM
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MattL wrote:

scorecoff hemmercules wrote: smiliegirl15 wrote: It’s my understanding Glencross signed for less in Calgary than he was asking for in Edmonton. Im pretty sure he got a couple hundred thousand more to play in Calgary, why would a player like him take less money to play anywhere??? He was asking close to 2, and is playing for 1.2/year. I’m pretty sure the Oilers offered at least 1.2/year.

I think years were the problem, ie Glenx wanted 3, Oilers offerd 2.

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#155 Soup
July 15 2009, 11:43AM
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rindog wrote:

With the exception of the Red Wings (who must have fortune tellers for european scouts) most NHL teams have to acquire their talent or miss the playoffs all the time. Of course if you finish out of the playoffs you are bound to a get a good pick once in while.

Ringdog, I fully agree with one change. The real trick is sucking bad enough, regular enough that you amass several picks in the top 5 (ala Chicago or 90's Ottawa). This constant string of just finishing out of the playoffs leads to a forever string of mediocre picks - good but not great - basically just enough to finish just in or just out of the playoffs.

So, if you are sitting on that precarious precipice of not quite good enough to complete and not quite bad enough to really suck, better to gather some of your assets and make a push - one way or the other. Package up vets for potential or package potential for real players. Looks from here that Tambo is looking to get better by using what he has at his fingertips. Good on him and all the luck in the world.

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#156 Wyseguy
July 15 2009, 11:46AM
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speaking of cap issues, how about Chicago? If their goaltending can hold up (questionnable), they're gonna be a force this year. But they've dug themselves into cap hell. They'll have to make some major trades next year to be able to sign Kane and Toews.

With the cap shrinking next year, who's gonna trade for a Campbell or Huet? Someone's gonna throw an offer sheet at Kane or Toews next year for sure. Chicago may not be able to match and stay in the cap. They may not even be able to stay within 10% over the cap limit for the off season. I bet their big contact guys have no movement clauses, so they can't even send a guy down to the minors to hide the salary. Buy outs may be their only choice.

They sure are sticking their neck out to chase the cup this year, then slicing their throat the next.

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#157 Ogden Brother
July 15 2009, 11:49AM
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Soup wrote:

rindog wrote: With the exception of the Red Wings (who must have fortune tellers for european scouts) most NHL teams have to acquire their talent or miss the playoffs all the time. Of course if you finish out of the playoffs you are bound to a get a good pick once in while. Ringdog, I fully agree with one change. The real trick is sucking bad enough, regular enough that you amass several picks in the top 5 (ala Chicago or 90’s Ottawa). This constant string of just finishing out of the playoffs leads to a forever string of mediocre picks - good but not great - basically just enough to finish just in or just out of the playoffs. So, if you are sitting on that precarious precipice of not quite good enough to complete and not quite bad enough to really suck, better to gather some of your assets and make a push - one way or the other. Package up vets for potential or package potential for real players. Looks from here that Tambo is looking to get better by using what he has at his fingertips. Good on him and all the luck in the world.

Bingo, one positive however is that we may just have gotten 2 guys worthy of being top 5 picks without picking in the top 5.

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#158 rindog
July 15 2009, 11:50AM
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@ Soup:

My sentiments exactly!!!

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#159 Ogden Brother
July 15 2009, 11:51AM
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Wyseguy wrote:

speaking of cap issues, how about Chicago? If their goaltending can hold up (questionnable), they’re gonna be a force this year. But they’ve dug themselves into cap hell. They’ll have to make some major trades next year to be able to sign Kane and Toews. With the cap shrinking next year, who’s gonna trade for a Campbell or Huet? Someone’s gonna throw an offer sheet at Kane or Toews next year for sure. Chicago may not be able to match and stay in the cap. They may not even be able to stay within 10% over the cap limit for the off season. I bet their big contact guys have no movement clauses, so they can’t even send a guy down to the minors to hide the salary. Buy outs may be their only choice. They sure are sticking their neck out to chase the cup this year, then slicing their throat the next.

They can move 1, maybe 2 of Sharp/Buff/Versteg/Barker + a guy like Sopel and they'll be fine.

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#160 The Menace
July 15 2009, 11:54AM
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rindog wrote:

Would Edmonton be your first on your list of destinations to play?

Edmonton would be first on my list of destinations. The Oilers logo was also one of the first symbols each of my daughter's could recognize and identify, so I might be a bad example. ;)

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#161 MattL
July 15 2009, 12:01PM
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@ Ogden Brother:

If that's true, then minus one for the Oil. I was pretty sure they were just dragging their heels because of Hossa though, and Glen-x got impatient. Plus, Sutter likes cowboys.

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#162 Curious
July 15 2009, 12:08PM
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@ Ogden Brother:

Actually there are quite a few teams in trouble...

Boston has 21 player signed $170,853 left to sign 3 roster spots

Chicago has 25 signed and are over $4,559,374

Detroit has 24 signed and are $578,989 over

Ottawa has 24 signed and are $1,954,999 over

Philly only has 19 signed and have $1,827,084 to sign 5 players with

San Jose has 16 players signed and only $1,349,166 left to sign 8.

So dont tell me there is not teams out there with cap troubles. All of these teams have to do something.

The Oilers have 19 players signed and $5,941,667 left to sign 5

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#163 Oilchange45
July 15 2009, 12:12PM
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Long time reader, first time poster....

A part of me would not totally mind seeing the Oilers open with essentially the lineup they have for one reason only....

Many have spent the last several yrs criticizing MacT's coaching. Personally, I backed him until half way thru last yr when it became obvious things just were not working - not convinced he was the problem - but it was clear it was time for a change.

Everyone thought the coaching was the problem, and now, without playing a game, everyone seems just as convinced that the team is the problem without seeing what coaching does. As others have speculated, maybe Penner et al wake up and play in the new regime.

Realistically, I acknowledge they have to make some changes, but if something significant is done, the MacT bashers will not be able lay it all at his feet.

At this point, really don't want to see Heatley here - if he has a 2 game pointless streak the fans here will tear him to pieces and then where are we?

As I type, listening to Rome on the radio at work whining that Pronger got traded to Philly. I quote: "I hate that!" Must be missing his buddy already.

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#164 Ogden Brother
July 15 2009, 12:26PM
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Curious wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: Actually there are quite a few teams in trouble… Boston has 21 player signed $170,853 left to sign 3 roster spots Chicago has 25 signed and are over $4,559,374 Detroit has 24 signed and are $578,989 over Ottawa has 24 signed and are $1,954,999 over Philly only has 19 signed and have $1,827,084 to sign 5 players with San Jose has 16 players signed and only $1,349,166 left to sign 8. So dont tell me there is not teams out there with cap troubles. All of these teams have to do something. The Oilers have 19 players signed and $5,941,667 left to sign 5

Most of the holes will be filled by AHL guys for Peanuts, and the ones that do need to move salary will be trading/waiving the Brent Sopels of the world, not the Simon Gagners. I'll be absolutly shocked if someone better then a 2nd liner is delt for purely cap space purposes.

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#165 Curious
July 15 2009, 12:35PM
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@ Ogden Brother:

Thats delusional. Teams like SJ are in way more trouble with the cap then you want to believe. They need to sign 8 players and have $1.3 million to do it with. Give your head a shake. These teams will be forced to do something. Waiving salaries helps but doesnt help entirely. Based on the term of the contract some of that salary stays on the books.

I stand by what I said before. Sure teams will try to get get of the dead weight first. But there will be good players available for picks and prospects the longer you wait.

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#166 Ogden Brother
July 15 2009, 01:00PM
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Curious wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: Thats delusional. Teams like SJ are in way more trouble with the cap then you want to believe. They need to sign 8 players and have $1.3 million to do it with. Give your head a shake. These teams will be forced to do something. Waiving salaries helps but doesnt help entirely. Based on the term of the contract some of that salary stays on the books. I stand by what I said before. Sure teams will try to get get of the dead weight first. But there will be good players available for picks and prospects the longer you wait.

I'm not really sure where you get the 8 players needed from, they've got 8 forwards/7 dmen and a starting goalie signed up. They need 4 forwards, a back up and a spare part.

Also, they just signed Clowe and Blake to fairly hefty deals. Did you think they used up 7 million in space for those two and then might need to dump Thorton/Nabokov/Boyle or Marleau for peanuts? I don't.

Anyways, we wont know for sure until the season starts. But I'd be willing to bet no one better then a second pairing dman or a 2nd line forward will be purged (unless it's a solid hockey trade)

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#167 rindog
July 15 2009, 02:31PM
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@ The Menace:

I hate to break it to you - but you are in the vast MINORITY...

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#168 The Menace
July 15 2009, 02:43PM
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@ rindog: On an OILERS fan site, I would hope I'm not in the vast minority. Maybe I misunderstood why people come here! ;)

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#169 rindog
July 15 2009, 03:30PM
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@ The Menace:

Your speaking from the perspective on Oilers fan and not an elite player in the NHL.

BIG DIFFERENCE!!!!

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#170 The Menace
July 15 2009, 04:03PM
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@ rindog: Of course that's my perspective! I'm not an elite player in the NHL.rindog wrote:

Would Edmonton be your first on your list of destinations to play?

The question was if E-town would be my first choice.

I'm just giving you a hard time - not enough Heatley trades or other signings around here!

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#171 flyricky
July 15 2009, 05:55PM
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Lowe and Tambo are way over their heads. Instead of handing a guy a GM job with no exerience give it to Quinn. Could you imagine if this happened to Quinn he would have tore Murrays head off in the media and that crybaby Heatley.

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#172 oil fan
July 15 2009, 06:15PM
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Has Tambo get stated that the Oil is still interested in Heatly ? This is all media hype. Untill Steven goes public I would believe the deal is over. Who is the source ? Internet site ? Come on. Dan Barnes is just writing articles that he thinks Oil fans want. The internet site is probably the Nation or Eklund.With out a name for the source and internet site it seems like BS. Just my opinion.

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#173 whitey
July 15 2009, 07:43PM
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My take on this is that I agree with others that Tambo left Heater with "heh we like you, we want you in our organization and we are giving Murray a deal for July 1. After that if you do not waive then you are still our #1 guy but it in the best interests of the club we will look for other alternatives. If we find one we will give you 24 hours notice from that time to waive as you are our #1 - if answer is no will move on. Good luck"

I also find it comical that we still have fans that believe some how Penner will have a breakout season next year? Has he joined Jenny Craig or something? Can't see it. He's involved in this deal and he will be involved in the next if it does not go thru.

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