There really is no off season for the Ottawa Senators, is there? If there is, I believe it’s a Tuesday in late July.
The NHL free agent frenzy is now underway and thus, Dany Heatley was supposed to wake up today with a 4 million dollar deposit in his bank account, courtesy of the Senators. This is his bonus, automatically written into his deal. It will basically serve as the first half of his salary for the coming season. It’s certainly not a performance bonus. For what? Leading to the Sens to the golf course? Demanding a trade? Putting up 39 goals and 72 points, his lowest total in years?
The Sens had tried to avoid paying this bonus, agreeing to a deal with Edmonton yesterday, acquiring Andrew Cogliano, Dustin Penner, and Ladislav Smid. However, Heatley played his no trade card, apparently killing the deal. After all, Bryan Murray has said if he has to pay the 4 million, he might just keep Heatley. But now we find the 4 million dollar bonus apparently doesn’t kick in until tonight at midnight. So there’s still time for both teams to sweet talk the Heatley camp by reminding him this: You thought you were miserable in Ottawa last year? Just wait until the fall.
Let’s examine this deal that’s been scuttled, at least temporarily.
Penner was an underperformer in his two years with the Oilers. Penner never lived up to his 5 year deal with a cap hit of 4.25 million dollars. Penner had just 37 points this year and 47 the year before. The farther he gets from his Anaheim days, when he played on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, the less confident he looks.
Murray still probably has a soft spot for Penner. Murray was the one who signed Penner as a free agent out of the University of Maine. It was a nice signing, for sure, but Penner now needs to show way more offensive upside to justify that deal.
Murray also has a soft spot for Smid, another player he brought into the league. He drafted Smid 9th overall in 2004. The RFA would be another big man on the blue line, 6 foot 3 226 pounds.
Cogliano is a great kid. I had breakfast with him a couple of summers ago while he was in town visiting his former University of Michigan teammate Jason Bailey. He skates like the wind but hasn’t developed a consistent scoring touch yet with 18 goals in his first 2 years. However, he is entering year three, a time when many prospects break out.
Cogliano and Smid are high pedigree guys, both young first rounders, potentially ready to blossom at ages 22 and 23. Penner may feel relief from the Edmonton pressure of being the guy they overpaid for, including three draft picks. The Sens would need all three to be better than they’ve been so far.
This deal, or one like it, will be about as good as it gets for the Senators.