The internet is afire with stories that suggest Senators sniper Dany Heatley wants to leave Ottawa. Outlets are suggesting that he has had a bit of a conflict with new coach Cory Clouston, and is seeking to go to the Western Conference, but all of that seems to be speculation.
Although Heatley is widely regarded as one of the league's top scorers, he may be difficult to move because of his contract, which has a $7.5 million cap hit until the 2012/2013 season. It's hard to know how many teams can afford to bring in a player like that given rumors of the cap shrinking. Heatley also has a no-movement clause, meaning he has some say in where he goes.
As you can see from his stats (listed below), Heatley - like the rest of the Sens - had a bit of an off year this past season. However, the general consensus at Silver Seven is that if the Senators can get a fair return for Heatley (which, admittedly, will be very difficult), this could prove to be a huge blessing for the franchise. We know - we might be the only ones saying that.
#15 / Left Wing / Ottawa Senators
Jan 21, 1981
|2008 - Dany Heatley||39||33||72||-11||88|
Everyone has complained about how we have spent too much money on forwards, and how restricted GM Bryan Murray is by the cap. Trading Heatley would free up a huge amount of cap space, allowing the team to focus on a top-pairing defenceman and some secondary scoring, two of the key problems witnessed in the past season. Of course, primary scoring will be a major issue with the loss of Heatley's goals, but by spreading his $7.5 million cap hit onto several lines, the team will be better able to provide the type of forward depth that is required in the league, made painfully obvious by the struggles faced by teams who only have one line doing the scoring. Clearly, the Senators' Big Line system reached it's pinnacle in the Stanley Cup run, and has been frustratingly ineffective since. The Sens need a drastic change in order to remain competitive in the league, and trading one of the Big Three has seemed inevitable since the team's meltdown in the 07/08 season.
Though it will be hard to see Heatley go, it's not as hard as it would have been two years ago. Heatley's effort level has visibly dropped in the past two seasons - though he's just as good at putting the puck in the net, he's not nearly as effective as he used to be at getting into position to do so. I cannot count the number of times last season I was frustrated watching him float in the offensive zone, barely forechecking or backchecking and hardly breaking a sweat. Now, that's not to totally detract from what he has done here. Heatley has been a great part of this franchise, and he played a major role in the team's Stanley Cup run. He certainly deserves credit for that. He's also still an elite talent, and 50-goal scorers do not grow on trees. He will be very hard to replace. However, given the choice of losing any of the Big Three, Heatley is probably the best one to lose. His cap hit is the highest of the Three, and he's almost certainly more appealing to most teams than Jason Spezza (rightly or wrongly).
Of course, there's no telling if Heatley will actually be traded. Asking to be traded and getting traded do not always go hand in hand, but if Heatley does leave, here's hoping that Bryan Murray manages to get fair value for him.