Sources tell TSN the Edmonton Oilers is one team Heatley would consider waiving his no-trade clause to play for.
Now that this is a possibility, I'm actually a little bit worried.
Heatley's a very good player who does one thing very well (score goals) and the Oilers have a nice group of young players (players that the fanbase is currently underrating) and actually shape up like a good partner for the Senators in any trade.
Steve Tambellini must be careful not to overpay, since he's almost certainly interested - and right now, that means there are three assets who should not be moved:
- Ales Hemsky - To borrow an expression, this is robbing Peter to pay Paul. What's the point of moving a cheap first-line RW for an expensive first-line LW? We can argue about relative value, but Hemsky's contract means a lot in that discussion and the simple fact of the matter is that if the roster is going to be lopsided after a deal, the Oilers might as well continue rebuilding at a slower pace.
- Sam Gagner - The cheap young forward only turns 20 in August and hasn't come close to hitting his stride yet; despite that, he's still ahead of Hemsky's first two years - and Hemsky was a full season older than Gagner. Gagner remains a potential franchise cornerstone.
- The 10th Overall Pick - This pick should translate into a difference maker, and the Oilers don't get high picks like this all that often (and if things work out, they shouldn't be in this range for the forseeable future). Given that they'll almost certainly be giving up all sorts of valuable young players, it would be a mistake to move this pick.
With that in mind, Ottawa's clear need seems to be some mobility on their blueline. Sheldon Souray would be a nice player to build a package around, but he has a no-movement clause. Ditto Visnovsky. All of that means that one of Tom Gilbert or Denis Grebeshkov is likely going to be the centrepiece of a package, and Tom Gilbert is the likely candidate because a) his value is higher and b) he gets paid more.
So, Tom Gilbert.
The Oilers will also need to move a forward back to Ottawa, a downgrade on Heatley. The candidates here need to be young, and relatively effective; something which rules out a guy like Robert Nilsson. I can think of only three players that would fit (given the constraints I put on the Oilers above): Patrick O'Sullivan, Andrew Cogliano, and Dustin Penner. Ideally for the Oilers, Dustin Penner would be going the other way (much like Heatley he's a player who is vastly more effective from the blueline in than anywhere else on the ice) given his contract, while the Senators would almost certainly push for Cogliano. Patrick O'Sullivan would seem to be a good compromise; a very good young forward who plays LW and seems to be developing a variety of skills. He makes a hair under 3MM per season, so in combination with Tom Gilbert the Oilers have almost made up Heatley's salary. From a PR perspective, Oilers fans haven't seen much from O'Sullivan, so he tends to be underrated in Edmonton.
So, Gilbert + O'Sullivan.
The Oilers would probably need to toss in a third player or prospect given Heatley's established value. Undoubtedly, the preference here would be to see a roster player who isn't living up to expectations shed - perhaps Robert Nilsson or Steve Staios - but somehow, I don't see that happening. Besides, it's always nice to talk about hot young prospects when you're a GM trading away a star player, and the Oilers happen to have one who would fit the bill beautifully. Jordan Eberle is a smallish goal-scorer who isn't much of a two-way player either, but just came off a great WJC and would undoubtedly be of interest to the Senators.
My proposed deal looks like this:
- Ottawa: Tom Gilbert, Patrick O'Sullivan, Jordan Eberle
- Edmonton: Dany Heatley
Of course there are any number of complicating factors; the deal could get bigger and we're only taking a shot in the dark here, but I think this deal represents fair value to both parties.