Before I get into the Heatley situation, a very important question needs to be asked first. Is Dany Heatley a good fit for the Rangers? This is a question that is difficult to answer due to his somewhat checkered past and reputation for a bad attitude along with his large contract. When all is said and done though, Heatley is the type of player the Rangers will have an extremely difficult time producing from within their own system.
The Rangers are poised for a youth movement with roster spots up for grabs for the hungriest and most passionate player. Finally! If the Rangers have a down year seasoning their youth, so be it, it's for the greater good in the long run. The Rangers already have an established core in Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Marc Staal, and Dan Girardi. This season Artem Anisimov, Matt Gilroy, Bobby Sanguinetti, Michael Del Zotto, Dane Byers, Justin Soryal, Michael Sauer, Corey Potter, Jordan Owens, and Evgeny Grachev will all be given serious looks for vacant roster spots with the job going to the one who has earned it. As great as it is that the Rangers seem to be finally embracing their own prospects and their development, they lack a true sniper in their system. They lack a true game breaker. Evgeny Grachev may someday be that player, but he is only 19 years old and just completed his first season in the OHL. Although it is in extremely poor taste to talk this way, the tragic passing of Alexei Cherepanov left an enormous void in their system. Dany Heatley is the pure goal scorer the Rangers cannot produce from within. The Capitals have Alex Ovechkin, the Penguins have Evgeni Malkin (yes Malkin as he is the best player on that team), the Devils have Zach Parise, the Flyers have Jeff Carter, the Islanders now have John Tavares. Who do the Rangers have that can right now or sometime in the near future be that kind of player for them? Dany Heatley could be..
For the record, I would be beyond furious if the Rangers dished out any significant young players for Heatley. Sather stuck to his guns at the draft and didn't bite on the Senators demand for Staal, Callahan, or Dubinsky. A good start. Luckily for the Rangers, it is a very likely scenario that they can get Heatley without losing any prime prospects. Everything has worked against Sens GM Bryan Murray in such a way that he has zero leverage. He can try to set the price as much as wants, but in the end it will be the market that prevails. Unless of course Murray wants to have the everyday distraction of having a player in his dressing room who has publicly stated he doesn't want to be there. Unlike Garth Snow, Murray does not have a world class poker face. He can say as much as he wants that if a fair offer isn't proposed Heatley will remain a Senator. The fact of the matter is, Murray knows this is in itself a less favorable hockey decision than settling for a mediocre package of players in return for him. The Sens are trying to move on from a horrible '08-'09 season and having the most awkward of situations in their locker room on a daily basis is not an option. Keeping Heatley is like getting a divorce yet still living with your ex because you couldn't find a place nicer than the one you used to share with her.. or him for the ladies out there. It's simply not a realistic option.
Who would have thought that trading a 50 goal scorer and a perennial all-star would be so difficult? Well I did for one. Heatley has handcuffed the Sens and Bryan Murray along with some help from the language in his contract. There is a laundry list of reasons as to why Murray has been unable to establish fair value for Heatley:
- Heatley made his trade demand public
- He has a large contract w/ over $30 million remaining, in a recession that is a very bad thing (obviously). His contract eliminates a number of trading partners due to it's sheer size.
- The $7.5 million cap hit is too much for many teams to accommodate
- Alternatives, why pay more when Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa, and the Sedin Twins are avialable for cash only?
- Most importantly, the Sens owe Heatley $4 million on July 1st as advance payment for next seasons salary.
There may be questions about Heatley's character, but that's the risk that comes with playing the game. In the very unlikely situation that Heatley demands a trade in a few years, the Rangers will most certainly be in a more favorable situation than the Sens are in now. Heatley is worth the risk, especially because it is not going to take a kings ransom for him to come to New York.
Update: 2:30 PM: From Steve Zipay at Newsday:
The speculation on Heatley is this, some of it culled from discussions with other teams' executives in Montreal during the weekend. Today is critical because Ottawa does not want to pay Heatley the $4 million owed him tomorrow, so the Sens (GM Byran Murray and boss Eugene Melnyk) might be forced to lower their demands. The possible scenarios: Rozsival-Dubinsky, a high-draft pick and a prospect; Zherdev-Dubinsky and a high pick. The Rangers apparently do not want to include Staal or Ryan Callahan or take any other player back, given the Heatley cap hit.