Star left wing Dany Heatley surprised the hockey world two weeks ago by requesting a trade from the Ottawa Senators. The Vancouver Canucks would have the cap space to afford Heatley if they opt not to re-sign the Sedin Twins, but they might lack the type of return (a top six scoring forward and a puck-moving defenseman) Senators general manager Bryan Murray is believed to be seeking.
Heatley, only one year into a six-year contract paying him an average of $7.5 million per season, made the request through his agent, who suggested several factors went into the winger's request — notably his relationship with head coach Cory Clouston, who took over as Senators bench boss midway through last season.
The request stunned the Senators organization and the team's fans, many voicing their anger and disappointment on message boards and radio call-in shows. Heatley also earned scorn from several Canadian-based pundits who questioned his integrity, commitment and intelligence.
Heatley's request has generated plenty of discussion amongst pundits and fans pondering his future destination.
He has a "no-movement" clause in his contract, which he'll obviously waive to facilitate a trade, but he won't do it for just any club. Heatley's also apparently given Senators general manager Bryan Murray a "wish list" of preferred destinations.
Some have reported Heatley wants to play for a Western Conference team, suggesting he either wants to play for a Western Canadian club or one where he wouldn't face the same attention he received in Ottawa.
His agent dismissed that notion, claiming geography wouldn't be a factor in where the two-time 50-goal scorer ultimately ends up.
The Edmonton Oilers could offer up perhaps 26-year-old Tom Gilbert as part of a return, but they might come up short in the scoring forward department, particularly when they're also seeking depth up front.
The Calgary Flames meanwhile could use scoring depth, but unless they're willing to part with Dion Phaneuf — don't wager on that happening — there doesn't seem to be a fit there.
It's been suggested the Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues could be interested in Heatley, but Ducks GM Bob Murray flat out denied it, Kings assistant GM Ron Hextall suggested the trade request "raise red flags,, the Wild could come up short fulfilling the Senators asking price and the Blues appear committed to rebuilding with youth.
The Chicago Blackhawks were also cited as a possible destination, but the rumor of the Blackhawks offering Brian Campbell straight up for Heatley appears little more than wishful thinking by Campbell's critics.
One Western Conference possibility could be the San Jose Sharks, which could be facing an offseason shake-up after yet another early exit from the playoffs. Sharks GM Doug Wilson hasn't spoken on the matter, but as observers note he has the depth in affordable talent which could prove enticing to the Senators.
If Heatley, as his agent claimed, isn't fussy over which Conference he plays in, the Montreal Canadiens could certainly afford his salary given they could head into the UFA market with over $32 million in available cap space.
The Senators, however, might not be keen to deal Heatley to a divisional rival, plus the Habs might only be willing to offer up more prospects than established talent.
The New York Post speculated on Sunday that the Rangers might get into the bidding, but the paper's suggested offer of underachieving winger Nikolai Zherdev and overpaid blueliner Michal Roszival probably won't entice Murray into making a deal.
Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke stated last week in an interview he wasn't interested in Heatley in part because he considered a trade request to be bad business. But there's no way Murray would peddle the disgruntled winger to such a hated rival as the Maple Leafs.
Heatley's request could rub some general managers the wrong way and his expensive contract could significantly limit the market for his services, which in turn could force him into being more flexible on his preferred destinations.
Still, his offensive prowess is bound to generate interest around the league. It'll be surprising if he's still with the Senators when training camp opens in the fall.
However, it's unlikely he'll be moved by the upcoming entry draft weekend. Heatley is due a $4 million bonus on July 1, which will likely prevent the Senators from finding any takers prior to that date.