According to Bob McKenzie:
Trade discussions heated up on Friday and Saturday morning before a deal was finally agreed to. A deal that sends Heatley to the team he secretly wanted all along. A team he believed was an option when he refused to waive his no-move clause to accept a trade to the Edmonton Oilers.
Saturday’s trade ends a saga that began with a verbal trade request in mid-May. A request, sources say, led to several discussions between Heatley, Senators coach Cory Clouston, Senators GM Bryan Murray, as well as Heatley’s agents, JP Barry and Stacey McAlpine.
I have to be honest, my first reaction to the trade was one of disappointment. That’s not to say that I was disappointed in the return that the Senators got back in Michalek, Cheechoo and a second rounder. I’m not. However, given the current average state of the defense corps, I was hoping that Bryan Murray would be able to acquire a young stud who could immediately step in and blossom into a top pairing defenseman. Considering the possibility that Anton Volchenkov could leave as an unrestricted free agent after this season and the fact that none of the team’s blue-chip defensive prospects are close to assume these kind of responsibilities, it was an area that I felt needed to be addressed.
Regardless, this is the move that Bryan Murray made and I’ll give him credit for making a trade that should balance out the scoring. With a top six that includes: Kovalev, Spezza, Alfredsson, Michalek, Fisher and Cheechoo; the theory is by distributing the firepower, opponents can no longer focus upon exclusively shutting down the first line. In principle, this sounds great but in practicality, it’s not without some concern.
Milan Michalek has consistently demonstrated that he’s able to produce between 55 to 70 points annually. And unlike the previously rumoured return of Alexander Frolov, Michalek is under team control until the conclusion of the 2013-2014 campaign and at a reasonable cap hit of $4.333M. But as a 25-year old left-winger, I’m not sure that you even play him in Dany Heatley’s spot on the first line. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Spezza flanked by Cheechoo and Kovalev while Fisher is flanked by Alfie and Michalek. But, I’m sure if given the opportunity to play with Spezza and Kovalev, Michalek will have a great opportunity to establish some career bests.
That being said, Jonathan Cheechoo’s acquisition is a bit disconcerting. Here are his statistics for the past few years:
- 2005/06: 56 goals, 37 assists, 93 points
- 2006/07: 37 goals, 32 assists, 69 points
- 2007/08: 23 goals, 14 assists, 37 points
- 2008/09: 12 goals, 17 assists, 29 points
You’d have to be Ray Charles not to notice this trend. However, in light of the organization’s recent admission that ticket sales are down, Cheechoo’s addition could have immediate dividends given his popularity in the surrounding native community. For those of you who attended last season’s Sharks game, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Hell, at best it’ll at least add to an otherwise stale atmosphere at SBP.
I digress. Now when you consider Cheechoo’s lack of production carries a cap hit of $3.0M, he could be an expensive bust. Granted, he’s only signed for this season and next, but there’s a chance that his cap hit could limit what the Sens could do to improve their team further. I’ve read a few sources detailing how injuries have marred his production in recent years. Here’s a take from Sharkspageon the recent problems that have stalled Cheechoo:
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).
Despite his raw talent, Mike Fisher has never been able to replicate the chemistry that he had while playing on a line with Martin Havlat. Over the past few seasons, the coaching staff has played him alongside some productive wingers, but Fisher has never been able to demonstrate that he can be a consistent and productive second line center. In order for the Sens to improve their position in the standings, it’s imperative that Fisher develop some chemistry with two of Kovalev, Cheechoo, Michalek. (I’d include Alfie here but this experiment has failed way too many times.)
By improving the depth in the top six, there’s less of a burden on the likes of Nick Foligno, Ryan Shannon and Chris Kelly to carry the secondary load. This trio should combine to be one of the more energetic and intriguing third lines in the League. It’s also worth stressing how inexpensive the third line is because of our depth, Ottawa has one of the most expensive fourth lines in the NHL. With Ruutu ($1.3M), Neil ($2M) and some hybrid of Winchester, Bass, Schubert and Donovan. It was easy enough to shit on the Chris Neil contract at the time and think that the Sens were ripped off. But to look at it in retrospect, it looks that much worse. Especially now, considering that a number of Binghamton prospects look apt and ready to crack the roster as third and fourth liners. (As an aside, you really have to feel for the prospects who were on the cusp, with seemingly all the forward and defensive spots locked up in camp, where’s the competition going to come from in camp? Fuck, even Neil and Yablonski are in the same group.)
Given these circumstances and numbers, it’s reasonable to assume that Bryan Murray has another deal in mind. Whether he packages this newly acquired second rounder or a prospect to bring in a legitimate second line center will be a story to watch as camp develops. (My suggestion? Chris Kelly + Brian Lee + San Jose’s second rounder for Brandon Dubinsky.)
In case you’re wondering, the only time we’ll be seeing Heatley this year is on television. The Sharks won’t make an appearance at SBP until next season, so we’ll have to just sit on the couch and yell obscenities at the television when the Senators face the Sharks in San Jose on December 1st on Sportsnet (10:30PST). However, don’t let that prevent you from showing your contempt for Heatley. Be the first on your block to sport your own The Heat Is Gone! t-shirt. Click here to view our store. (Note: The value t-shirt goes for $10 USD. So it’s pretty affordable and is a good way to help us promote our website.)