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

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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    @ 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?

  • Hippy

    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!

  • Hippy

    @ 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!

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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.

  • Hippy

    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)!