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Stauffer Stuff: The Heat is Gone

by Bob Stauffer / Edmonton Oilers
Dany Heatley is now a Minnesota Wild.

On Sunday night the San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild engineered their second blockbuster trade in a span of 10 days as a name from the Oilers past, former star forward Dany Heatley, was moved by the Sharks for fleet-footed forward but injury-prone Martin Havlat.

It is kind of funny how things work out isn’t it?

Remember back in the middle of summer of 2009?

At that time Oilers General Manager Steve Tambellini was actively pursuing Heatley after the sniper had requested a trade from the Ottawa Senators.

According to multiple reports Tambellini offered up Dustin Penner, Ladislav Smid and Andrew Cogliano to the Sens for the disgruntled forward who had scored 180 goals in four seasons in Ottawa.

As we all know Heatley invoked his no-trade clause and ultimately for all intents and purposes willed his way to San Jose in September of 2009, and in the process altered the course and direction for the Oilers organization for years to come.

Had Heatley elected to come to Edmonton it is entirely possible the Oilers might have been a mid-level team in the National Hockey League maybe finishing somewhere between 12th to 24th overall over the last couple of seasons.

Instead though the Oilers floundered with back-to-back 30th place finishes, except there is a pay-off when that happens and it is known as Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. After chasing free agent Marian Hossa in the summer of 2008 and Heatley in 2009 and coming up empty the organization realized the made in Edmonton solution for acquiring elite level talent was through the draft and with development.

In the spring the Hockey News “Future Watch” edition ranked the Oilers organization as #1 with players 21 and under, with four players; Sam Gagner, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi and the aforementioned Hall all seeing significant time with the team last season.

Prior to an interview on “Oilers Lunch” one NHL Senior Executive said to me, “the Oilers right now have the best group of young players in the NHL, and it isn’t just Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle and Paajarvi. (Teemu) Hartikainen and (Anton) Lander are going to be players and they have a lot of depth coming up on the blue line as well.”

The Oilers have invested resources on the draft and development side allowing Head Amateur Scout Stu MacGregor to hire additional European scouts and implementing a strategic plan for development through Bill Moores and Mike Sillinger. Don’t be surprised if the Oilers add an ex-NHL defenceman to the mix in development to work with their young prospects on the back end like Jeff Petry, Colton Teubert, Alex Plante, Martin Marincin, Oscar Klefbom and David Musil.

Now the key is to allow things to grow organically.

In two short years the Oilers have re-stocked the organizational depth chart and are clearly headed in the right direction.

The team addressed issues such as toughness, face-offs and defensive depth through free agency, and upgraded the character in their transitional players as well by bringing back Ryan Smyth.

This should buy the likes of Hartikainen, Petry and even Nugent-Hopkins more time if needed prior becoming full-time NHL players.

End result the Oilers appear to be going down the right path, with a passionate fan base that is sophisticated enough to get it!

This is how you build an elite team.

As for Heatley, I wish him the best of luck in getting his game back in the Twin Cities after two underwhelming seasons (by his standards) in San Jose.

Who was it that said: sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make?

Bob Stauffer is the Oilers Radio Color Commentator and Host of Oilers Lunch  

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