August 04, 2009
The notion that the San Jose Sharks are facing a ticking clock on a potential Dany Heatley(notes) trade, as reported/opined by Malkin To The Kings in this morning's Ottawa Sun, is a little preposterous, no?
Consider the fact that their first overture for a player who demanded a trade was summarily dismissed as inadequate by the Ottawa Senators, both in personnel and in timing. Consider the fact that the Sharks, despite their postseason flop, are still a defending Presidents' Trophy winner that's been steadfast in not wanting to blow up the roster before its time. (Its time likely being next summer, when Patrick Marleau(notes) and Evgeni Nabokov(notes) are all up for unrestricted free agency, while Joe Pavelski(notes) and Devin Setoguchi(notes) are RFAs.)
But according to the Sun, time is running out on the Sharks when it comes to Dany Heatley, like they're Jack Bauer in the worst season of "24" ever. Bruce Garrioch reports that "indications are" that GM Doug Wilson is "dragging his feet" on a Heatley trade, and writes:
"There comes a time where you have to stop trying to manipulate the process and get down to serious business," said a league executive Monday.
Wilson has been telling reporters in San Jose he's going to make changes in the wake of the club's first-round playoff exit, but he's been all talk and no action. A major part of the problem is the Sharks are up against the $56.8-million (all terms US) salary cap.
With only six weeks before players report for physicals, Wilson is feeling the heat to shake things up. He's also at a disadvantage: Other GMs know the Sharks are reluctant to begin camp with the same bunch of underachievers. "Wilson has got to do something," said another league executive.
Again: What heat is he feeling? If there was heat on the Sharks to dramatically alter the team, wouldn't it have come down in July? Or around the draft? Wouldn't he have forced a move by now to take the heat off?
This isn't to say the Sharks won't trade for Heater, or that they're still the most logical dance partner for the Senators. But again: What pressure is Doug Wilson under to make this deal? Are fans in San Jose boycotting "Shark Week" until Wilson moves significant assets for a player who has his name on the Stanley Cup as many times as Joe Thornton(notes) does?
Do Sharks fans even want Heatley?
As the focus for the Senators winger's new home has shifted from the Edmonton Oilers to California, the chatter from Sharks fans has increased about a potential deal. PJ at Sharkspage had a very solid take on Jonathan Cheechoo(notes), whose name was rejected by the Senators as a tent pole for a Heatley deal earlier this summer and who might still move as part of a multi-player trade:
That Ottawa allegedly didn't "want anything to do" with right wing Jonathan Cheechoo according to Garrioch is short-sided and foolish. His heavy shot and quick release have not diminished in the slightest, and he remains a deadly option for any power play. Cheechoo struggled with a broken thumb and a double hernia surgery which limited his production to 37 goals and 23 goals the two seasons after his Rocket Richard winning 56 in 2005-06. This year Cheechoo was the odd man out in a numbers game that saw seven top-6 forwards in the same lineup. Cheechoo was relegated to limited minutes on a third line that was racked with injuries (Goc, Plihal, Marleau, Roenick).
Cheechoo has struggled to regain the form that allowed him to slide into open areas in front of the net, but in the proper situation he should be a lock for at least 20-30 goals. Dany Heatley on the other hand has piled up 180 goals over the past 4 NHL seasons. This latest offer by San Jose could be a matter of not enough of an offensive return for Ottawa. The options Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray has are quickly drying up, and the baggage Heatley carries with him along with the $7.5 million cap hit over the next 5 seasons is going to significantly limit the quality of offers he will receive.
All of which makes this ticking-clock scenario for Wilson all the more implausible.
We pointed to this Battle of California post in the Puck Headlines recently, but this section spoke volumes about patience by Wilson and the Sharks in the past:
I am still not sold on acquiring Heatley for various reasons (length of salary, reputation, etc) but if we can get him without giving up Patty or Milan then Wilson has played a nice game of chicken and waited out Murray and got Heatley at a good price. Sounds somewhat similar to a trade for a much maligned BOS star that Wilson pulled off a few years ago and that seemed to work pretty well.
Indeed. If you're getting the vibe that Sharks fans wouldn't mind Heatley in their lineup (at the right price), so are we. The Chum Bucket just comes right out and says it:
Make it happen, Wilson. Look, Heatley's personal problems are no mystery - the guy has forced a trade twice now in his brief career. But San Jose's salary cap issues aren't exactly shrouded in mystique, either. I'd love for every player to pass through Teal Town to be a saint off the ice and a 40 goal-scoring beast on the ice, but that just isn't going to happen. We need more goal scoring, we need to dump our dead weight contracts, and this trade would go a long way to remedy both problems.
Finally, Fear The Fin has a really great point-by-point analysis of Heatley and his fit with the Sharks, before coming to this conclusion:
I, like I know you are, am sick of all the crap. I'm sick of the back and forth, and I'm sick of the positioning and drama on both sides. But the question is this... would I want Heatley as a player on my team? I've moved back and forth on this for a while, but the answer is yes. I don't know what we'd have to give up, and I don't know what our cap will look like. But if the possibility of adding Heatley was presented to me, I'd act on it.
The Sharks bloggers all seem pretty cool with a Heatley trade; they also seem pretty cool with Wilson waiting as long as he wants to make it. So this creeping immediacy trickling down from Ottawa just doesn't seem believable. The Sharks have been painfully methodical this offseason. The Senators don't have that luxury when it comes to Heatley. Yet it's San Jose that's on the clock?