Just recently, 28 year old winger Dany Heatley has made his intentions public of wanting to be traded from the Ottawa Senators. Reports of an apparent rift between Heatley and newly appointed Senators coach Cory Clouston seems to be the main reason behind his trade request. Unfortunately for the Senators, nothing good can come from reports of a star player indicating that he wants out of your franchise. Ottawa will have to hope for a unique situation from another organization if they hope to receive market value for their star winger.
This is not the first time that Heatley has made it public that he no longer wishes to play for his NHL team. Heatley asked to be traded from the team that had originally drafted him in the Atlanta Thrashers prior to arriving to Ottawa. However, criticism of Heatley for this trade request remained non existent due to the fact that Heatley had gone through the tragic death of his friend Dan Snyder in the Ferrari that Heatley was driving in the Atlanta area. The tragic memory of Snyder’s death was likely a key factor in Heatley wishing for a change of scenery at the time.
This time, however, Heatley’s trade request will likely be met with a bit more skepticism. Like all Canadian markets, the Ottawa Senators have a very loyal and knowledgeable fan base that always has a constant eye on the organization. To this day in Ottawa, I still hear tales of Alexei Yashin and the torment that he caused for the franchise due to his constant wishes for more money at a time when the Sens remained a very cash strapped franchise. Unlike Yashin, the problem is not so much about the money for Heatley as it is about the coach.
The star winger is currently in the second year of a six year contract that has a cap hit of 7.5 million. For the 2009-2010 season alone, any team wishing to acquire Heatley will be paying him 8 million for the next three seasons as the contract remains front loaded in the initial years of the deal. What seems surprising in this situation is that Heatley had clearly made a long term commitment to the Senators and the city of Ottawa only a short time ago.
After signing his contract in 2007, the belief was that Heatley, Spezza and Alfredsson would be the core group moving forward with the organization on their journey towards a Stanley Cup. But that seems less and less likely after Heatley’s recent trade request. In a recent press conference announcing the hiring of new Senators President Cyril Leeder, TSN discussed the disappointment felt by Sens GM Bryan Murray who was very surprised by Heatley’s trade demands. Murray was the one who signed Heatley to the contract so to have this type of situation arise so early in the deal has clearly put a lot of strain upon the Senators General Manager. Murray can now only hope for the right type of situation to arise in the hopes that he can get a proper deal for his star winger.
If you take the past comments of Senators owner Eugene Melnyk into account, the Senators are clearly a team that should be a contender for the Stanley Cup. When you have an owner that feels his team can compete, the possibility of trading Heatley for draft picks and prospects seems unlikely, unless of course there is a backup plan to acquire a star forward in another deal elsewhere. However, the possibility of seeing a star player traded for a star player has been a pretty rare occurrence in the NHL.
One of the most recent examples however does involve Heatley himself who was acquired by Ottawa in exchange for Marion Hossa. At the time of the deal, Hossa had literally just signed a three-year contract worth 18 million with the Sens. One problem with the Hossa deal for the Sens was that the contract was signed during the first year out of the lockout where there was a very low salary cap at 39 million. The situation was perfect for both Ottawa and Atlanta because the Thrashers were getting rid of a player who wanted a trade and the Senators were getting rid of a player who was asking for too much money. In a perfect world, Ottawa can only hope for this type of situation once again in order to grab another star player in return for Heatley.
Sun Media has reported of speculation that Heatley could be generating interest from both the Edmonton Oilers and the San Jose Sharks. From clearly a hypothetical standpoint, one must wonder whether or not a shakeup is in place with any of the Sharks star players after the team fell below expectations once again after losing in the first round of the playoffs.
The Edmonton Oilers on the other hand are a different story as the organization failed to make the playoffs last year. While the Oilers are flooded with young talent like Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano, the recent appointment of new owner Daryl Katz has led to a few failed attempts at landing some premier free agents. Last year alone, the Oilers had two unsuccessful attempts at signing Marion Hossa and Jaromir Jagr to contracts. If the reports of the Oilers interest in Heatley have any truth behind them, Edmonton will surely have a long list of young players to offer in a potential deal for Heatley. One concern however, is whether or not Murray is looking to unload Heatley for draft picks and/or prospects.
The conclusion of the Heatley situation will be interesting to watch over the next little while. Although highly doubtful, it will be interesting to see if the Sens play hardball with their star winger if the appropriate deal does not arise. Would the Sens ever consider sending Heatley to the AHL if a deal does not come up? Will we see the Sens pick up a bad contract in a desperate move to get rid of Heatley? Will teams be reluctant to trade for a winger who is upset about the relationship he has with his coach? Is there a team that will make a strong pitch for Heatley in the hopes that he is the final piece to the Stanley Cup puzzle?
What was originally looking like a quiet summer on the hockey front in Ottawa has suddenly become very interesting. If Heatley is not dealt prior to the June 26 NHL Entry Draft in Montreal, expect the rumor mill to be in full effect over the future destination of the star winger. One can only hope that this is the last trade request that the 28 year old Heatley makes throughout the remainder of his NHL career.