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Numbers Game: Heatley Knows the Way to San Jose

Scott Cullen
9/12/2009 7:00:52 PM
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After a summer of discontent, Dany Heatley was finally shipped out of Ottawa, to a good situation in San Jose.

Numbers Game analyzes the biggest swap of the summer.

The Sharks Get: LW Dany Heatley and a fifth-round pick.

Heatley, 28, is coming off his worst season in Ottawa, as he appeared out of shape yet still finished with 39 goals.  In the last four seasons, Heatley has put up 180 goals, ranking third in the entire league over that time frame (behind Alexander Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk). 

In San Jose, Heatley will join elite playmaking centre Joe Thornton, a situation that ought to give him every opportunity to regain the 50-goal form he showed in both 2005-2006 and 2006-2007.  Presumably, Heatley will be energized by the move to San Jose, a contending team that will depend on him to be an impact scorer.

With Heatley moving to San Jose, he could play on either of Thornton's wings, with Patrick Marleau or Devin Setoguchi sliding down to the second line.  In either case, Heatley's production should be strong, but whoever gets bumped down the depth chart may see their value decline a little -- not a lot, though, because the Sharks' second line was one of the league's best last season.

The fifth-round pick doesn't hold tremendous value, with approximately 14% of picks taken from 151-180, in drafts from 1995 through 2004, reaching at least 100 games in the NHL.  But, it provides some counter-balance to the pick going Ottawa's way.

Heatley has five years and $37.5-million remaining on his contract, so the Sharks are making a significant commitment to the pairing of Heatley and Thornton.

The Senators Get: LW Milan Michalek, RW Jonathan Cheechoo and a second-round pick.

Michalek is a big winger, like Heatley, but the 24-year-old has better speed, if not the same kind of finishing touch.  Michalek tallied 66 points in 2006-2007, but his numbers have dipped slightly since.  Even so, with 47 goals and 112 points over the last two seasons, Michalek is a very capable second-line winger who has enough upside that he might be able to handle a spot on the first line.

Obviously, if Michalek finds his way to Jason Spezza's wing, that would present an opportunity for him to challenge that career-best 66 points.

Michalek has five years and not quite $21.7-million remaining on his deal, so the Senators get long-term value in return for their marquee scorer.

Cheechoo, 29, was in desperate need of a fresh start after two rough seasons in San Jose. 

After tallying 93 goals in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 combined, Cheechoo managed just 23 in an injury-plagued 2007-2008 season, then got bumped out of San Jose's top six forwards, leaving him miscast in a third-line role and he finished with just 12 goals and 29 points in 66 games last season.

While Cheechoo has the work ethic to be a fine two-way winger, he has enough of a knack around the net that he's well worth a spot on the Sens' second line, where he could put up at least 25 goals and 50 points.

With two years and $6-million left on his contract, Cheechoo could prove to be great value if he regains his scoring touch.  If not, he will only be overpaid a little for a short term.

Additionally, the second-round pick that the Senators receive has some decent value.  Using the same parameters as above (1995-2004, picks 51-60), 27% of selections played in at least 100 NHL games.

Since Heatley's request for a trade was widely-known, the Senators needed to exercise real patience to get a quality return in trade and this deal accomplishes that.  While neither Michalek nor Cheechoo is going to match Heatley's production, getting two capable wingers should give the Senators scoring balance that they have sorely lacked for years and they could be better after making this deal, which would be a huge accomplishment after surrendering a marquee scorer.

In San Jose's situation, they are clearly showing some desperation after recent playoff failures, and pairing a dominant scoring power forward with a premier setup centre is a good way to change the organization's outlook.  It just seems to come at a rather steep price.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@ctv.ca

 




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