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Northwest Notebook: Heatley will hear plenty of boos in Edmonton

by Roger Phillips / Edmonton Oilers
San Jose Sharks right wing Dany Heatley, left, skates next to Joe Thornton during the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game against the Phoenix Coyotes in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 19, 2009. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Related Multimedia - Heatley Saga:
For those hungry for a few bites of post-Thanksgiving animosity with a dollop of whipped cream, the Sharks-Oilers game Friday night might be a good place to start.

There's not necessarily any bad blood between the teams. But you've got to figure that about 17,000 angry Albertans will be on hand to make their feelings known.

The target: Dany Heatley of the Sharks.

This will be the first time the high-scoring wing has played in Edmonton as a member of the Sharks -- and no doubt, Oilers fans think he should be playing for their team. He would have been had he not rejected a trade this past summer from Ottawa. Instead, he wound up being dealt to San Jose.

And how has this worked out?

It's pretty safe to say things have worked out best for the Senators and Sharks. The Oilers, not so much. San Jose sits atop the Pacific Division. Ottawa is in a four-way scrum for the lead in the Northeast. Edmonton, beset by the flu and injuries, is on the outside of the playoffs looking in, though the Oilers’ plight is not irreversible.

Here's what the various parties have to show for the trade that didn't happen and the trade that did:

SHARKS: Heatley has 18 goals and 29 points in 26 games. And as far as anyone knows, he hasn't asked to be traded once since arriving in San Jose.

OILERS: Dustin Penner, Ladislav Smid and Andrew Cogliano would have been Senators if Heatley had green-lighted the trade to Edmonton. Penner is having his best season in Edmonton, with almost as many points as Heatley, but he doesn’t get to play on a line with Joe Thornton. Cogliano has been less productive. Smid, a defenseman, averages nearly 20 minutes a night.

So Friday night in Edmonton will be interesting.

Let the booing begin.

New in the Northwest  -- Heatley opted out of his chance to play in the Northwest Division, but that wasn't the case for other prominent newcomers this season.

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Here's a look at the performances of the top newcomers on every Northwest team this season:

CALGARY -- Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester gives the Flames some offense from the blue line (12 points in 23 games) while devouring minutes (more than 26 a game) and taking some pressure off Dion Phaneuf.

COLORADO -- The most surprising team in the NHL lost Joe Sakic, who retired, but gained two 18-year-olds in rookie centers Ryan O'Reilly and Matt Duchene. The Avalanche also added a goalie, Craig Anderson, who has emerged as one of the best in the NHL. New coach Joe Sacco is doing a pretty good job, too.

EDMONTON -- The Oilers didn't get Heatley, but did add center Mike Comrie, who has been only mildly productive so far. They also moved on from the Dwayne Roloson era, adding Nikolai Khabibulin, whose goals-against average is above 3.00 even though his save percentage is above 90 percent.

MINNESOTA -- Marian Gaborik is gone, scoring about every other goal put up on the board by the Rangers. In his stead, the Wild added Martin Havlat, who not only has failed to match his production with previous teams, but also has been a double-digit minus in the plus/minus ratings.

VANCOUVER -- The best addition has been defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, acquired in a trade with the Sharks. Ehrhoff is the Canucks' top-scoring defenseman, has a strong plus/minus and is playing nearly 22 minutes a night.

Along came Jones  -- In his first two seasons, Avalanche right wing David Jones totaled 10 goals in 67 games. He matched that figure in his first 20 games this season.

Ryan O'Reilly and Matt Duchene have received tons of attention this season, and rightfully so, for the Avalanche's unexpected success. But the 25-year-old Jones also has been a factor. At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Jones gives the Avalanche size. He's also got speed and a good shooting touch, evidenced by the fact he scored his first 10 goals this season on only 35 shots. He nearly had a hat trick in a recent defeat of the Flyers, settling instead for two goals.

"I think one key this year in scoring goals is just being able to play with some really good players," Jones told the Denver Post. "Playing with those guys, you just have to go to the net and some good things are going to happen. Sometimes, things come in bunches. I'm getting some bounces now, and I've just got to take advantage of it."

Only now does Jones, a former Dartmouth star, seem to be realizing what he's capable of.

"He plays a north-south game, and I think he and (Paul Stastny) have complemented each other well," coach Joe Sacco told the Post. "I like the fit of those two guys. The goals he's scored have come because of the way he's playing — hard on the forecheck, creating turnovers down low in the offensive zone, and as a result he's getting chances."

Shaking things up -- Four years ago, the Wild picked winger Benoit Pouliot with the No. 4 selection in the draft. The Montreal Canadiens grabbed winger Guillaume Latendresse with the 45th pick.

This week, the teams swapped the two forwards.

Pouliot was unproductive in his 65 games over parts of four seasons with the Wild, and his work ethic was questioned at times. He produced only 18 points. Latendresse had a much greater opportunity to contribute in Montreal, recording 48 goals and 85 points in 232 games. The Wild loves his potential as a power forward.

"We like Guillaume," general manager Chuck Fletcher told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "We like his size, we like his skill, we like the fact that he's scored 48 goals in the NHL and he's only 22 years old."

Latendresse told the newspaper, "I had an average of 16 goals every year and I was playing on the third and fourth lines. So all my goals were pretty much 5-on-5. So if I have a chance on the power-play line, I can bring some offense, too."

Another newcomer, center Andrew Ebbett, scored for the Wild on Wednesday in their 2-1 shootout loss to Boston. Ebbett recently was claimed off waivers from the Blackhawks.

Author: Roger Phillips | Correspondent

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