MONTREAL -- Yesterday, the Los Angeles Kings revealed the asking price from the Ottawa Senators for the services of disgruntled forward Dany Heatley: "one or two players" and the team's No. 5 overall first-round pick.
Is that too much to ask for when it comes to Heatley, one of the League's top offensive players but one that also has five years left on his new deal with an annual cap hit of $7.5 million?
So far, yes. The Senators are refusing to allow the market to set the price, telling the Ottawa Citizen that teams have inquired about Heatley but none have offered a legitimate package yet.
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Now, this could easily be a case in which Ottawa's using a media megaphone to juice the offers as the NHL Draft (and a potential trade frenzy) arrives. Or it could be an indication that Heatley's contract, in this economy, is a non-starter when combined with the asking price from Ottawa.
According to the Citizen:
That could lead to the possibility of Heatley having to play for the Senators next season, however unpleasant that may be for both sides.
Assistant general manager Tim Murray, speaking in place of Bryan on Thursday, acknowledged that's a distinct possibility. "We're not giving him away because he has made the demand to be traded," he said. "It has to be a good hockey deal or it won't get done.
"And then we just assume on Sept. 14 or 15 he'll show up at training camp, and be part of our team and go forward, and (be) a big part of our team, obviously."
Uh, wow. That won't be too awkward. Especially for Coach Cory Clouston, who has been cited as one of the reasons Heatley wants out. He told the Ottawa Sun that "for myself to be painted as the scapegoat, that's fine. I believe we did what was right for the team."
He also met with Heatley after the season, according to the Sun:
"I talked to Dany once and it was a pretty decent conversation. There wasn't any animosity between the two of us, which I think is a positive thing. Since then, I haven't spoken to him," said Clouston. "The one area (he wanted to see more) was just consistency. When Dany is moving his feet and playing his game, he's one of the best players in the NHL."
Though GM Glen Sather has backed himself into a corner with the cap that will remain within a couple of hundred thousand dollars of last year's $56.7M following the NHLPA's vote to trigger a five-percent bump to counteract a decline in revenue, the Blueshirts could absorb Heatley's contract by moving Michal Rozsival ($5M cap hit) and not qualifying Nik Zherdev ($3.25M). Qualifying offers are due by 5 p.m. Monday.
Again, the Senators would have to swallow some salary, and reluctance to do so may be part of the issue right now.
As for Edmonton, it's just a hunch. Kevin Lowe is saying the usual "you don't mortgage the future" stuff, but we just can't get that pitch to Marian Hossa last summer out of our heads. It's clear adding an elite player is something management intends to do. The question is one of price and commitment to Heatley's contract against their cap.
Where do you see Heatley next season? And what's a fair asking price from Ottawa?