Jim Matheson has finally weighed in on what everyone in Edmonton has been talking about over the last couple of days - the acquisition of Dany Heatley - and as usual his piece sheds some light on the issue.
The first quote that jumped out at me was this one regarding Sheldon Souray:
The Oilers would likely only have two players they wouldn't move to get the 28-year-old Heatley -- right-winger Ales Hemsky and centre/winger Sam Gagner... Everyone else is in play, even defenceman Sheldon Souray, who had 23 goals and 53 points this season.
That's an interesting way to phrase it, I think. Matheson doesn't go so far as to say the Oilers are looking to move Souray, but he does single him out when discussing options. Normally, I wouldn't read much into it, but Robin Brownlee has been making some noise about this over at OilersNation, too - most recently just last week. I'd strongly advise anyone who hasn't to read the entire article, but I'm going to quote one part. Brownlee of course first mentioned the rumour that Souray may want out of Edmonton, which Souray denied in a way that still leaves the veteran reporter asking questions:
Like I said, I’ve read the accounts and watched the interview on TV more than once, and all I can say is unless I’m missing something, what Souray said falls well short of being a vehement denial. No?
Did Souray, at any point, say, "No. That’s not true?" He denied talking to Tambellini, but did he deny asking for a trade? What do you make of, "It doesn’t deserve a no and doesn’t deserve a yes?"
And the last quote . . . isn’t Souray saying he wouldn’t tell the media he’d asked for a trade even if it was the case?
Smoke and fire? Possibly. Brownlee had obviously heard something, and for Matheson to make the statement he did it seems to me that either he asked someone (Katz, Lowe, Tambellini) directly if they'd consider moving Souray, or he's heard the same things that Brownlee has. It's certainly worth keeping in mind.
The next line that jumped out at me was this:
"I would say Ottawa needs two wingers to make up for the loss of Heatley," said an NHL executive, who didn't want his named used, but who has followed the Senators closely.
I've been working off the assumption that Ottawa needs another top-four defenseman (they do), but this is the second time that a pair of wingers has been mentioned as part of the return package. Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen tossed out the names of Patrick O'Sullivan and Dustin Penner when this news first broke, and while I was initially declined to dismiss it this suggests that the Oilers might be able to build a package around those two players - a vastly preferrable option to building a package around Tom Gilbert and Patrick O'Sullivan.
The other thing to keep in mind here is that Bryan Murray was the general manager of the Mighty Ducks when they recruited Penner out of college; it's certainly possible that Murray would be interested in reacquiring him.
Heatley, who has a summer place in Kelowna, has reportedly let it be known he'd like to play on a Western Conference team.
The bit about Heatley wanting to go out west isn't new, but this is the first I've heard about his Kelowna summer home. Kelowna's midway between Calgary and Vancouver, meaning that the three Canadian western teams are closest to the city. I'm really not sure how big of a deal this is, but it can't work against Edmonton anyway.
Finally (and this isn't news) Matheson talks about the tenth overall pick:
If the Senators want another good first-round draft pick this June to go with their No. 9 selection, the Oilers could be in trouble. They pick 10th.
I realize that it's just a pick at this point, but whoever the Oilers end up selecting (assuming they grab the best player available) should easily be their best prospect immediately. The players likely to be available in that position are superior to anything the Oilers have in the system - including any of Peckham, Nash or Eberle. If Bryan Murray wants that pick, Steve Tambellini should do everything in his power to convince him to instead take some combination of Eberle or Nash and another prospect or lower pick. This may be Edmonton's last chance for a while to grab a true difference maker from the draft.
One last comment, again from OilersNation's Jason Gregor. Gregor's been told that Daryl Katz is "prepared to do whatever it takes" to acquire Heatley from the Senators. At this point, I'd be very surprised not to see a big push for the forward at the entry draft.