by PuckStopsHere on 09/13/09 at 06:16 PM ET
When the San Jose Sharks lost in the first round of the 2009 playoffs many of their fans called for wholesale changes. The team had done increasingly better in the regular season for the last few years but had no significant playoff success. They won the 2009 President’s Trophy and were expected to do better than a first round playoff loss.
The urge was to trade away key players. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were among the candidates to be shipped out of town. That would have been a bad idea for the Sharks. They were not going to get better by subtracting parts. They were highly unlikely to add better pieces in their place if they were trading away their best players.
The opportunity to add to the team came with Dany Heatley. They were able to acquire Heatley from the Ottawa Senators for Jonathan Cheechoo, Milan Michalek and a 2010 2nd round draft pick. Ottawa was now the team trying to get rid of a key piece, as Heatley had publicly requested a trade this summer and that request had not been fulfilled with training camp soon to open. That was likely to cause a distraction for an Ottawa Senator team that had struggled with distractions that had led to failure in the last couple years. San Jose took this opportunity to add a top talent.
Heatley is in the prime of his career. At the age of 28, he is a two time 50 goal and 100 point scorer. Jonathan Cheechoo and Milan Michalek may be good players, but they lack the talent and ability of Dany Heatley.
This trade could go down in history like the Detroit Red Wings acquisition of Brendan Shanahan or the Colorado Avalanche acquisition of Patrick Roy. It could be the apparent final piece that helps propel the San Jose Sharks to playoff success. I do not believe in the “final piece” theory. San Jose is a good team that could win the cup. They are among the teams with very strong shot at the Stanley Cup. With Dany Heatley on the roster, they are an even more likely to win a cup. They are a better team now than they were before the Heatley trade.
It is hard to remake a team that is a solid contender without giving away significant parts. This is especially true in the salary capped NHL. The San Jose Sharks managed to remake their team by adding a significant offensive talent without giving away anybody of that level. It is a job well done by GM Doug Wilson. It might be one of the key moves that are credited with bringing a Stanley Cup to San Jose.
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