Dion Phaneuf will hope to bounce back this season after struggling in 2008-09. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)
Maybe there’s a way for the Ottawa Senators to trade Dany Heatley, get decent return and not have it look like a fire sale.
Ever since the flighty left winger declared in June he wants to be moved, gave a list of teams he’d be willing to lift his no-trade clause for, then scuppered deals that would have landed him in Edmonton, the Senators have had problems finding a workable swap.
Here’s one I think works: Heatley and defenseman Chris Campoli to the Calgary Flames for defenseman Dion Phaneuf and center Wayne Primeau.
It works for the Sens because they finally get the stud defenseman they’ve missed since Zdeno Chara left as a free agent in 2006 and Wade Redden transformed into a garden ornament – and later moved to the New York Rangers.
Phaneuf is coming off an abysmal season in Calgary, but he’s the type of character defenseman who could anchor the Ottawa blueline, both offensively and defensively for years to come. Sure, the Sens are going to miss Heatley’s offense, but they signed Alexei Kovalev to help replace it and secondary scoring was going to be a problem in Ottawa regardless.
The deal works for Calgary because Jay Bouwmeester is the new blueline leader, Robyn Regehr and Cory Sarich are the shutdown defensemen, and either Mark Giordano or Campoli can do a capable job playing the point on the power play.
Getting Heatley into the Calgary offense is a fabulous replacement for outgoing winger Mike Cammalleri. A top line of Heatley, Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen makes the Flames an imposing offensive force in the Western Conference and allows left winger Rene Bourque to slide into a role he’s better-suited for on a solid second line with Daymond Langkow and David Moss.
The inclusion of Campoli and Primeau is done to make the deal a little more palatable for Calgary (let’s face it, Heatley is getting a good, firm grip on the problem-child label). It’s also done to help balance the swap financially. Both teams are right up against the cap now. Heatley has five years left at $7.5 million, Campoli is a bargain at $633,333 and will be a restricted free agent in 2010. Phaneuf has five years left at $6.5 million and Primeau is making $1.4 million this season, the final year of his contract.
So Ottawa is giving away $8.1 million in salary in exchange for $7.9 million. It fits for both teams. Primeau, 33, gives the Sens added fourth-line depth for a season and Campoli, 25, is a good third-pair defenseman who will warrant a raise in 2010-11.
Of course, this deal will never be a serious consideration for at least a couple of reasons at Calgary’s end. GM Darryl and coach Brent Sutter have a huge man-crush on Phaneuf and have no doubt he’ll rebound from a train-wreck of a season in which his offense plummeted, he was a liability in his own end and was minus-11 on one of the league’s top 10 teams. Moreover, it’s doubtful the Sutters would want to take a big piece out of their monster defense and take on an unpredictable powderkeg in Heatley, even if he is a Calgary-raised lad.
For as much as we can envision solid dressing room guys such as Iginla, Regehr and Craig Conroy being a good influence on flaky Heatley – and as much as we can see Iginla and Heatley working well together on the ice – it’s a trade destined only for the cyberblog archives.
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Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior special editions editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. You can find his blog each weekend.
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