Vote For Heatley: Sharks Captain 2010/2011

If you haven’t read the new Puck Daddy piece detailing the San Jose fan reaction to the Dany Heatley rumours, do yourself a favour and check it out. Hopefully Puck Daddy won’t be offended but I’ve re-posted his piece here (his portion will be italicized) and I have included my own comments that are in bold.

The notion that the San Jose Sharks are facing a ticking clock on a potential Dany Heatley trade, as reported/opined by Malkin To The Kings in this morning’s Ottawa Sun, is a little preposterous, no?

Not as preposterous as a professional journalist encouraging one of the Senators to slash Sidney Crosby’s sore ankle in a playoff series. However, considering that training camp is slightly over a month away, the timing and optics of a deal isn’t far-fetched. If the teams are going to move significant assets, they’ll do it prior to the start of the season so that the players can assimilate and get comfortable with their new environment and teammates. Also, in defense of Boo-Boo’s article, I think he was insinuating that Doug Wilson should stop dicking around. If he’s interested in Heatley, make a reasonable offer.

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 President’s 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 and Evgeni Nabokov are all up for unrestricted free agency, while while Joe Pavelski and Devin Setoguchi are RFAs.)

Well, if you ignore previous efforts and current reports that Wilson has tried to pressure Marleau into giving up his captaincy in an effort to provoke him to waive his NTC and create cap room, then yes, they’re not looking to blow up their roster before it’s time.

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?

Did he mean the heat of being the architect for a franchise that has been slapped with a perennial loser tab? Why would he shake up the roster of a President’s Trophy winning club? I don’t know…maybe…because that’s what he said he’d do!

Who’s to say that Doug Wilson hasn’t been in negotiations with Heatley’s camp this entire time? As Allen Panzieri mentioned in an article this morning, San Jose’s Assistant GM is Dany’s father’s roommate from their days together at the University of Wisconsin. (Got that?) With Edmonton bowing out of the Heatley sweepstakes last week, there are rumours that they did so to save face because they knew a deal was imminent elsewhere. And it makes sense. Had Heatley known there was a deal to be had with San Jose, why not take the Edmonton offer more seriously?

Like Puck Daddy mentioned in the beginning of his piece, Marleau and Nabokov are due to become UFA’s and Pavelski and Setoguchi are likely to get bigger contracts next offseason. Under these circumstances, it’s fair to say that this could be San Jose’s window of opportunity to win now before they are forced to face cap casualties next offseason.

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 does?

He’s under pressure because he told local reporters that he would make changes. If Wilson doesn’t make a play on Heatley and San Jose falls short again this year, fans and media will chastise him for not trading for the third most productive goal scorer in the past three seasons when his value was diminished. Fans will be fans, they’ll support the team regardless of whether they acquire Heatley. However, the support of a GM for an underachieving franchise might start to wane.

Oh, and can people stop playing the tired, Player A doesn’t have his name on the Cup card already? It’s a simplistic and baseless argument that’s needlessly hangs over the heads of good players because the person doing the critiquing often hasn’t watched a player enough to fairly evaluate their talents. To shit on Heatley for not winning a Cup is like me degenerating an argument to “well at least Heatley’s been to the Finals!”

Do Sharks fans even want Heatley?

The more appropriate question is why wouldn’t they? San Jose’s not Edmonton. He WANTS to play there. If not because he can line up beside Thorton, then because he sees Marleau as a stepping stone to donning the “C” to superficially show that he’s a leader.

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 onJonathan Cheechoo, 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.

You know what’s a solid take on Cheechoo? Any trade for Dany Heatley will not involved Cheechoo because maybe he’s just not that good. An impartial fantasy guru named Jimmy D., who freelances over at Halifax’s Chronicle Herald put it best when analyzing the alleged return on Heatley:

 

If this were 2006 instead of 2009, the answer would be yes. Cheechoo was coming off a 56-goal campaign, Ehrhoff was an emerging power-play specialist and a first-rounder was not guaranteed to be a bottom-three pick in the draft.

But look at Cheechoo’s goal totals since 2006: 56, 37, 23 and 12. Based on that descending production, he would be set to score nine goals this season. Jimmy would offer pretty tempting odds that Heatley will get more than nine in his first month.

It’s telling that the Senators think they need the Habs involved in the trade for a “scoring winger,” meaning they don’t consider Cheechoo one. It’s even more insulting when you look at Montreal’s roster, where the Kostitsyn brothers are the best of the scoring wingers.

Maybe Ottawa hopes to rekindle some Kovalev-Kostitsyn magic?

Recall as well that, on a Sharks team where everyone was a plus player, Ehrhoff managed to be -12 last season.

 

The only thing that PJ at Sharkspage did well was re-affirm that the phenomenon known as fans overvaluing their own players still exists. Another example from this past week was a reported rumour out of Boston that had Roy Halladay going to the Red Sox in a package centered around Manny Delcarmen.

Any trade based on Jonathan Cheechoo will not work because of his downward trending, aforementioned injury history, and salary. There’s simply too much inherent risk involved and the only thing that Cheechoo’s acquisition guarantees is more tickets and merchandise sold to the native communities in the surrounding area.

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.

Thank you to Mike O’Connell for setting the bar so low. Because of his Joe Thornton precedent, San Jose fans have this delusion of grandeur wherein they can parlay their refurbished shit for an all-star talent.

Welcome to the salary cap system — the environment where no one wants to give up anything to get something. (Well, unless you’re getting Chris Campoli.)

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.

Weird, I wonder if by dead weight, he’s referring to Cheechoo’s contract? Such a polarity in the Sharks fanbase…

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.

You’re sick of the Heatley saga? And you live in San Jose? Try living in Ottawa for the past month and a half.

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?

Hey, who wouldn’t be cool with a fleece job? Seriously though, the onus is on Ottawa to move Heatley before training camp — They’re not only over the cap limit, but it’s naive to assume that he’ll show up to training camp. That being said, maybe it’s time we started to ask if Doug Wilson had enough job security to afford not to take a chance on Heatley.

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