Ottawa media woke up today feeling like they just had prom last night. All the build-up for months and then POW, just like that, it's over. After spending all summer over-analyzing trades and trade requests and no-trade clauses and trade rumours, we're all left with nothing more than...ACTUAL HOCKEY! Sure, it feels weird that prom has come and gone, but now the future can finally start!
Personally, I'm mildly satisfied with the trade return. I'm not pumped about it, but I'm not disappointed by it, either. People that were spitting rumours of getting top prospects and Jack Johnsons were wrong from the beginning. So many questions have implicitly been answered now that we can look back and put our own timeline together.
First, Garrioch tells us that San Jose's offer was Cheechoo, Ehrhoff, and a 1st rounder. Murray clearly hated that deal as it just gave us a third line forward to replace a top line forward. So he took the Edmonton deal. But, since the Sens had given Heatley's camp the opportunity to negotiate their own trades with other teams, they were fully aware that the Sharks had made an offer and so rejected the Edmonton trade, hoping to bully Murray into accepting the lesser deal.
When Ehrhoff was sent to Vancouver as a salary dump, it changed slightly the trade return. They added in a better player to replace Ehrhoff, but dropped the draft pick down a round. Again, Heatley and his handlers just sat back with their middle finger in Murray's face. It is clear that Murray understands the seriousness of this season or else he would have just kept the bad attitude in the locker room and hoped the returns were better. People will argue, and some commenters on this site are included, that we were fleeced in this deal on a talent basis and we should have waited until the deadline. But Bryan Murray has been at this a long time and is privy to information that must have told him that either a) the returns on this player were not going to get that much better in the season, b) the risk of an injury wasn't worth it, or c) having Heatley's attitude in the room, based on what they discussed in their Friday morning meeting, was such that he absolutely had to be moved right away. I truly believe it is a combination of all three - the returns wouldn't be much better at the deadline or next summer, there is risk in carrying a guy that you are hoping to trade later, and Heatley clearly walked into SBP this weekend adamant that he should be traded to the Sharks ASAP.
But enough about him. What about the players headed our way?
Exciting player, signed for a long time, and going to be a fan favourite in Ottawa. I've watched a fair share of Sharks games (bless you, Centre Ice package) and while he isn't a dominant force, you always know when he's on the ice. He can often be found near the crease, but he also has gifted hands and speed. He'll have better skating than Heatley and will be tougher, but obviously isn't a 50-goal player. He's without question a top six player and will be a great threat on the powerplay, which is starting to look impressive. The Citizen caught up with Michalek. Hey, we have a new Mach 9!
Dude has gone through a few sports injuries and hasn't played a full season since his 56 goal outburst in 2005-06. It has been said that his skating leaves something to be desired, but that might be more of an injury recovery thing that he's hopefully remedied with a strong off-season. What I like about the Moose Factory native is that he is smart enough to recognize this as a fresh start and will no doubt look to impress his new fans. It remains to be seen if he can hang on the top two lines after he was demoted to the third line in SJ last year, away from Thornton. If he can get some scoring touch back, along with his skating, he might get ice time with Spezza to see if he can rediscover that old pace. What I also like about him is that he's averaged 112 hits a year in the past four seasons, so he won't shy away from the corners. He knows this is an opportunity for him to resurrect his career, as told to the Sun yesterday.
Listen, did we get full value for a 50-goal scorer? Of course not. Anybody that thought we'd get a loaded package of stars, prospects, and picks needs to put down the Playstation controller. We lost our top scorer but we've balanced out our offence and we balanced out our payroll, two critical flaws of last year's team. I think Spezza will thrive in this situation because he'll get to play with multi-dimensional players that will help him grow his own game. We acquired two hard skaters that will buy into Clouston's style of hard forechecking and teamwork. And most importantly to Murray and the players, we rid ourselves of that Charlie Brown rain cloud that has been hovering over SBP since June. We'll be tougher and harder to defend and Leclaire will put us back in the postseason.
If TSN and the Hockey News were to revise their Eastern Conference predictions and power rankings, would they move us up or down from #24? Their main reason for the low score was the Heatley uncertainty, which is now gone.
And finally, players hit the ice today for the first time since April. First pre-season game is Tuesday night. Take a big breath, Sens fans. Just because prom is over, it doesn't mean there isn't a whole new great future out there waiting for us.