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Murray still working on dealing Heatley

Friday, 08.21.2009 / 5:10 PM / 2009 NHL Offseason News

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

"I don't think there will be two or three teams to pick and choose between. If I can get one more deal that is somewhat realistic for our team and propose it to their side, that would probably be the limit."
-- Bryan Murray

Ottawa Senators General Manager Bryan Murray still hears Dany Heatley's call to be traded and is trying to work with the disgruntled winger to get him out of Ottawa, but he doesn't think he'll be able to come up with the options Heatley is seeking before agreeing to a deal.

Speaking on a conference call Friday, roughly two and a half hours after Heatley announced his trade request still stands and he wants out because of what he depicts as a diminished role with the Senators, Murray said he's had talks with "three or four teams" about Heatley but "only one or two, in my way of thinking, are real, real serious."

"I told them if they're not somewhat straightforward in the proposal in the next few days I have to, at some point in time, say Dany is going to come to training camp," Murray said. "I don't think there will be two or three teams to pick and choose between. If I can get one more deal that is somewhat realistic for our team and propose it to their side, that would probably be the limit."

Murray has been trying to trade Heatley ever since he gave the GM a written request for a trade in early June. He had one consummated on June 30 -- a four-player deal that would have sent Heatley to Edmonton -- but Heatley nixed it, using the no-trade clause he had put in the contract extension that he signed two years ago.

Edmonton has since announced it is no longer in the market for Heatley and Murray has been left with trying to deal him in a market that has been tighter than in years past. Heatley's contract calls for a $7.5 million annual cap hit for the next five years.

"He's a high-paid player with a long-term contract and for a team to get him they have to have space, and the list of teams they have approved limits that to a degree," Murray said. "I talked several times yesterday with managers. I think there is a possibility. It only takes an hour or so to get a trade done if we come up with the right pieces. Time-wise we could still do it, but we have to prod a couple of teams to act fairly quickly."

Heatley said that if he's not dealt by the time training camp opens Sept. 12 he will report to Ottawa to honor his contract. If it gets to that point, Murray believes Heatley will have to smooth things over with his teammates and the coaches before relationships can resume.

He does, however, believe that's possible and is hopeful that if Heatley is in a Senators sweater this season that he will act like a professional and play his hardest. Having an opportunity to play for Canada in the Olympics hanging over him could be enough motivation for Heatley to put aside his differences with coach Cory Clouston and just play.

"I believe that Dany is a pro player and he does have a contract and he does want to play, certainly, in the Olympic program," Murray said. "Based on that I think he could come back and play very well for us. There needs to be mending done and we have to be open-minded, but I have to think we're big enough people to let this happen."

During his call, Heatley stressed that he wants options and he knows there are other teams interested in him. Murray said he's not sure if Heatley is being presented bad information, but he has found the market for him lukewarm at best.

"I don't know that he's being misled, but I was told by his people on several occasions that a team was quite interested and when I called that particular GM that was suggested to me it was quite the opposite," Murray said. "It was either they had no money or would not give up the player that was suggested to me. Let me assure you that if there was an adequate trade that would make Dany happy and the Ottawa Senators happy I would have pursued it very hard."

Murray is buying Heatley's reasoning for wanting a trade. Heatley's ice time, specifically on the power play, was cut slightly after Clouston took over Feb. 2. Clouston moved Heatley off of the power play unit that included Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson.

"If that's what it is, I think the coach and the player can resolve that issue fairly quickly," Murray said.

What Murray doesn't like is the fact that Ottawa played better under Clouston and Heatley is apparently not seeing that part of the equation.

"That's what disappointed me more than anything," Murray said. "When you have a player that feels his role is less but the team is doing well, it's a little harder to accept."

Murray also speculated that Heatley wants out of Ottawa because the team hasn't gone in the right direction since he signed his contract extension just a few months after the Senators lost to Anaheim in the Stanley Cup Final.

Ottawa made the playoffs in 2008, but got swept out of the first round by Pittsburgh. The Senators failed to make the playoffs this past season.
 
"We haven't played that well over the last year, but being that he's one of the highest paid guys on the team it's his responsibility as much as anyone to make this team play better and have success," Murray said. "I believe it is pride, even misguided, and he probably overreacted. When it did become public it became something we couldn't solve. At this point in time it doesn't matter."

What does is how Murray handles this request. His job is to protect the Ottawa Senators, and if he doesn't feel the value being offered equals Heatley's worth than he'll happily go to training camp with No. 15 back in a Senators sweater.

Then, it'll be up to Heatley to mend some fences to make his life easier.

"If you trade a player of this caliber I don't know how you get ahead," Murray said. "You could probably get more numbers and spread your cap money a little further, and that's not a bad thing in today's world, but I don't know that you get a better player. Dany, I suspect, will score 50 goals this year again. That's his history. He's a goal scorer. He's a player that maybe some of the managers in the League need to take advantage of."

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com


Quote of the Day

I came into a team that had 65 points, that was at the bottom of the basement, a team that everybody wrote off as never going to be good. My goal is to go from the very bottom to the very top.

— Forward Brandon Dubinsky on signing a six-year contract extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets