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Sens GM exploring all Heatley options

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators general manager Bryan Murray said he was "shocked and disappointed" to receive a trade request from Dany Heatley, the team's top scorer (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images).

Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray is still patiently waiting to make the right deal for disgruntled forward Dany Heatley.

Nine days after the two-time 50-goal scorer informed Senators management he wanted to be traded to another National Hockey League team, Murray remains hopeful he can make something happen before next week’s NHL entry draft in Montreal (audio).

“I’ve had some conversations with several teams,” Murray told the media earlier Tuesday at a media conference to introduce the organizations new executive leadership team. “I don’t really have a timetable but I have encouraged anybody that is really interested to try to make the contact before the draft. We will get something done by that time, I hope.

“If we’re going to do a deal, that would be the right time for me to feel that we could maybe achieve something and get it done.”

While Murray has yet to field an offer involving a Top10 pick in the draft – or an opportunity to move up from the Senators’ current No. 9 position in the first round – he said “those are things we would consider” in a trade involving Heatley.

“We’re looking at a variety of avenues,” he said. “If it’s a draft pick or a flip of a pick and a couple of players coming back… we would consider anything.”

And yes, that does include bringing Heatley back to Ottawa next season if the right deal does not materialize (audio).

“I’m just not going to let him walk away for nothing,” said Murray. “Whether we get the ideal trade or not, that’s one thing, but I have to get something good for this organization coming back.”

During his four seasons in an Ottawa uniform, Heatley has produced 180 goals – only Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk of the Atlanta Thrashers have scored more in that time span. Murray acknowledged they are the kind of numbers that are almost impossible to replace (audio).

“It’s hard to give up 50 goals,” he said. “He didn’t get it last year – a lot of people underachieved – but Dany Heatley is that calibre of goal scorer. To be better than that is going to be difficult, there’s no question.

“What (trading Heatley) might do is balance our dollars a little bit. If the cap is going to go down in the future, to have maybe two players (earning) that amount of money rather than one might help us. It might give us a little more depth than we had. But when you lose a star, you lose a star and they’re hard to replace.”

While Murray was aware Heatley and head coach Cory Clouston didn’t see eye to eye on certain issues, he felt it was something that the two could resolve. Murray said he was “shocked and disappointed” to receive the trade request from the Heatley camp (audio), adding he considered the move “out of character” for the 28-year-old forward (audio).

“I really like Dany Heatley a lot. I think he’s a great player and a good guy,” said Murray. “Problems always come up in hockey…. You just talk about it, you kind of resolve the issue and you hope that people end up somewhat happy.”

Clouston, he added, was “devastated” to learn he was being publicly fingered as the reason for Heatley’s request to move on (audio).

“That’s not totally true. It is part of the reason,” said Murray. “The frustrating part for us is that we have gone through several coaches here that we couldn’t win enough games with. We brought in (Clouston) and we were happy with the results. The team started to look like a team again and then to be kind of blindsided, really by one of your players not wanting to fit in… that’s hard for a coach to accept.”

"It's hard to give up 50 goals. He didn’t get it last year – a lot of people underachieved – but Dany Heatley is that calibre of goal scorer. To be better than that is going to be difficult, there's no question ... When you lose a star, you lose a star and they’re hard to replace." - Bryan Murray
Murray said he’s had no indication that Heatley wants to escape the hockey-mad market in Ottawa (audio).

“Dany never said anything to me but complimentary things about Ottawa,” said Murray. “Never, at one time, do I remember him saying he didn’t like the attention and that he didn’t like the city. The fact that he signed a long-term deal (early in the 2007-08 season) indicated to me and everyone around him that this is where he wanted to be.”

Now the Senators must contemplate life without their top sniper and perhaps a shift in their strategy for next week's entry draft (audio).

“It’s going to be difficult to get the star quality that we had,” said Murray. “It changes the makeup of our team considerably. We felt before this came up that we needed a top-six forward. Now it looks like we need two.

“We have to look for another good player to put on our team to be a better team next year.” 

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