The Dany Heatley saga has, mercifully, come to an end thanks to Saturday's trade that sent him west to San Jose, so it's time to start taking a look at what each team is getting -- and losing -- in this blockbuster deal.
There's no question that San Jose is getting the best player in the trade with Heatley, but can Ottawa realistically replace his production with Michalek and the steadily declining Cheechoo?
The numbers don't look encouraging.
First, let's take a look at how each player performed, offensively, during the 2008-09 campaign.
It was a "down year" for Heatley as he registered his lowest point total since the pre-lockout NHL. Even so, he still managed to light the lamp 39 times, leading the Senators, while his 72 points were third on the team, trailing Daniel Alfredsson by just two points. The Sharks are getting a legitimate front-line talent that should be a good bet for 40 goals. If we assume that he'll play on the top line with an elite puck distributor like Joe Thornton, another 50-goal season (he has two of them) isn't out of the question. Even with his large contract and off-ice issues, that's an awful lot of production to replace for an Ottawa team that's already short on goals (the Senators scored just 213 goals a season ago).
So what is Ottawa getting back with Michalek and Cheechoo? Let's start with the bed news first, just to get it out of the way.
Coming out of the lockout during the 2005-06 season, Jonathan Cheechoo exploded onto the scene with a career year, scoring 56 goals to lead the league while amassing 93 points. Since then? It's been all downhill.
Cheechoo is signed for two more seasons, carrying a cap hit of approximately $3 million per year. That's a solid chunk of change to pay a guy with that level of production, especially when it's been dropping rather steadily over the past three seasons. Michalek, on the other hand, should offer a bit more optimism for the Senators.
Entering what will be his fifth full season in the NHL, Michalek doesn't turn 25 until early December, so it stands to reason that he might still have some room to improve. He's a solid two-way player, has great size, and has been consistent in his production (especially at even-strength) over the past three seasons. He's not going to replace Heatley offensively or in the goal-scoring department, but few players in the NHL would.
Off-ice and contract issues aside, the Senator are sending away one of the NHL's most prolific goal-scorers and receiving a good first or second line winger (though, not anywhere near as productive as Heatley) and a declining enigma that hasn't come close to repeating his career season from four years ago.
The Senators did what they had to do, but it's hard to argue that they're a better hockey team than they were six months ago.