It’s finally happened. Disgruntled Ottawa Senators star Dany Heatley has been traded to the San Jose Sharks for Jonathan Cheechoo, Milan Michalek, and a second round draft pick. The Sharks will also receive a fifth round draft pick.
This trade has significant implications for the Ducks. It’s also eerily similar to the trade that brought Joe Thornton to San Jose for many reasons. San Jose didn’t give up much to get one of the premier puck distributors in the game when they received Thornton (I bet you can’t even remember who they traded), and today’s trade is very similar because the Sharks just received one of the premier goal scorers in the game today, and gave up very little for it.
Ottawa will find the two players they received had very inflated statistics over the past few years because they were playing with Thornton. Not that the Senators’ Jason Spezza is a slouch by any means, but he’s not Joe Thornton. It’s for exactly that reason that Ducks fans should be slightly alarmed at the moment. Thornton led the league in assists in 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08, and has been in the top ten every other year since 2002-03. And Heatley? He’s third in goal scoring since the lockout, behind only Alexander Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk.
I think you get the picture. But wait…that’s not the only source of anxiety for Ducks fans. Didn’t we trade a defenseman this offseason? One that was pretty good at controlling big, strong, high-scoring players? We’re going to miss Chris Pronger a little more than we thought this season.
But the anxiety gets worse, unfortunately. Remember that guy who shut down Marian Gaborik in the 2007 playoffs? And then shut down Markus Naslund and the Sedin twins? And then Henrik Zetterburg and Pavel Datsyuk? Oh yeah…and the very same Heatley, along with Daniel Alfredsson and Spezza? Sami Pahlsson, who got my vote as playoff MVP that year, is gone, as are his two linemates that made up the best defensive line in the NHL that year, Travis Moen and Rob Niedermayer.
Surely the Ducks still have defensively responsible players, right? Well, Drew Miller was one of the better ones left on the team, but he, too, was traded this summer. That leaves us with Todd Marchant, Ryan Carter, and Petteri Nokelainen, and I’ll throw in Mike Brown for consideration as well. These players are darn good defensively, but I’m not sure they can handle the big bodies of Thornton and Heatley, among the many other huge-ish Sharks forwards.
At least Ducks fans can take solace in the fact that the trade didn’t go down as the three-way trade that was reported on Thursday. For those that missed it, the supposedly “official” trade was Heatley to the Sharks, Patrick Marleau to the Kings, and Alexander Frolov and Jarret Stoll to the Senators. That would have made for 12 damn hard games to play against the Sharks and Kings.
But out of all this comes something that I am very much looking forward to: full-out, run-and-gun-style offenses from every team in the Pacific Division. San Jose traded defencemen Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich to Vancouver for a bag of pucks, the Ducks traded Pronger and let Francois Beauchemin walk, the Kings traded Kyle Quincy and Tom Preissing for forward Ryan Smyth, the Dallas Stars’ Sergei Zubov left for Russia, and no one cares about the Coyotes except Gary Bettman and Jim Balsillie.
That being said, I still like the Ducks’ chances. You know why? I’d put Getzlaf, Perry, and Ryan against any other players, any day of the week. You can take that to the bank.