Did the Ottawa Senators win the Dany Heatley trade?

Bryan Murray has been summarily roasted for his work in the summer of 2009, when he sent Dany Heatley to the San Jose Sharks for the seemingly paltry return of Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo, and a 2nd round pick.

It was a terribly handled situation from beginning to end, what with every ounce of it playing out publicly, from Heatley's initial trade request to Murray's failed attempt to send him to the Edmonton Oilers.

By the time Heatley landed in San Jose, it looked like he had brokered his own deal and Murray had been stuck with a terribly negotiated return courtesy a player with no GM experience.

In the two years following, the trade only looked worse. Michalek managed only 66 games in both years, scoring 34 and 33 points, respectively. Jonathan Cheechoo had 5 goals and 14 points in his lone season before the Senators bought out the final year of his contract. And that 2nd round pick was traded for 18 games of Andy Sutton.

In short, at the end of last season, it looked as though the best thing Ottawa got from the Heatley trade was the "So you're an expert" meme.

And yet, two and a half months into 2011, things are beginning to turn in Murray's favour. Still with the Senators, Michalek has 17 goals this season, tied for first in the NHL with Phil Kessel and Jonathan Toews. Suddenly, it's looking like the best player in that deal ended up in Ottawa.

From Pierre Lebrun:

"When Dany was here, he was a 50-goal scorer for us," Murray said. "So you couldn't be happy a player like that leaving you unless you got great return. But Milan has come on, he's a very useful player; he kills penalties and does all the rest. At this point it's worked out real well.''

Heatley has since been dealt from San Jose to Minnesota for Martin Havlat, another former Senator. Heatley carried eight goals into the Wild's game at Los Angeles on Thursday night, which was seven better than Havlat -- who still hasn't found his way in San Jose.

It's only 10 weeks into the season, but it's Michalek -- the lesser of those three names -- enjoying the most success.

As Lebrun says to close out the article, the trade appears to have worked out just fine for Murray.

But where he dares not go, I will. This trade didn't just work out -- I'd argue that Murray won it.

After two straight 50-goal, 100-point seasons, Heatley re-signed in Ottawa for $45 million over six years, and immediately began to decline. He dropped to 82 points that season, and in the first year of the new contract, he only registered 72.

Heatley jumped back to 82 points in his first year in San Jose, but fell again to 64 points last season, and this year, he's on pace for only 52. In short, he's done nothing but regress since signing the extension, and I can safely say that the Senators wouldn't have committed to a $7.5 million cap hit for six years had they known Heatley's production would drop by half by the third year.

Ottawa may have lucked out when Heatley demanded a move.

Speaking of half, Milan Michalek's $4.3 contract is nearly half of what Heatley is owed this year, and he's currently on pace for 50 goals. Granted, whether he can stay healthy for the full year or maintain this pace remains to be seen. but right now, the Heatley trade is beginning to look like a great trade for Bryan Murray.

Maybe even a won trade.

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