Blackhawks Confidential

Blackhawks should get involved in Heatley trade talks

Blackhawks president John McDonough promised "less than an overhaul, more than a tweak" in whatever personnel changes are made this offseason.

The club could get involved in a major shakeup, though, if it chooses to engage in trade talks for disgruntled Ottawa winger Dany Heatley. Heatley, an offensive powerhouse, reportedly has asked Senators general manager Bryan Murray to move him and that's going to be tricky with Heatley chained to 5 more years of a contract paying him $37.5 million.

The Hawks, however, are committed to pay defenseman Brian Campbell 7 more years at just over $7 million a year. So swapping the similar contracts makes sense if the Hawks decide a less than stellar season for Campbell dictates that moving him now would be a God-send.

Not to mention getting a star player in Heatley who scored over 100 points in two of his four years in Ottawa with 50 goal outputs both times.

Heatley has a no-trade clause and yet it seems probable that he would be anxious to move to the up-and-coming Chicago franchise. It's uncertain if Campbell would block a move to Ottawa if he has the no-trade option.

The Hawks also have young talent that could persuade Murray to move Heatley if Campbell isn't part of the package. Depending on how the Senators view Chicago's talent base, Kris Versteeg might be of interest to Ottawa as part of shaping a workable deal.

The Hawks weren't immediately among the teams that the Ottawa media focused on. There was speculation that Heatley could be worked into the salary caps of the Minnesota Wild, Calgary Flames, L. A. Kings, St. Louis Blues or New York Rangers.

It's probable that the Hawks will keep Campbell and hope he improves. They could be missing a chance in that case to upgrade the team.

Campbell for Heatley, big deal for big deal, makes sense in a tight financial market that now often determines trades. Campbell improved in the second half of the season, saying he had felt the pressure of his big contract.

His worth is in power-play production and quarterbacking the offense, while his defense and his play and positioning without the puck continued to be questioned.

Heatley has more than a few skeletons in his closet. The story is that he wants out of Ottawa due to a rift with coach Cory Clouston, who demoted him to second power play and reduced his even-strength ice time last season.

"He's obviously not used to a pressure game and being in exact spots where we want him to be," Clouston said about Heatley last season. "Sometimes, it may look like he's not skating when actually he's trying to think a little more than react."

Sounds as if he was saying Heatley can't skate and chew gum at the same time. Change of scenery may be all Heatley requires to rev up again.

So while there are accusations of Heatley being soft in some aspects of his game, count the reasons why the Hawks should be on the phone to Murray. Heatley has scored 180 goals in the last four years and played 82 games in three of them.

Unrestricted free agent Martin Havlat, the winger the Hawks are trying to sign back, can't match those numbers. Havlat, who was a teammate of Heatley in 2005-06 in Ottawa, scored 73 goals in the last four years in more limited playing time due to injuries. Havlat was a first-round pick for Ottawa in 1999.

Hawks general manager Dale Tallon likely will try to sign defenseman Duncan Keith to a long-term deal this offseason. Keith contributed far more to the cause last season than Campbell. Keith deserves to be the top-paid defenseman in Chicago.

Acquire Heatley. Get out from under Campbell. Pay Keith. Rework the defensemen setup.

More than a tweak is in the eye of the beholder. Heatley would be a sizeable thump, a signal the Hawks are not content to stand pat.

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13 Comments

Forklift said:

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The Campbell-for-Heatley makes sense from both ends, as the Sens can certainly use some blueline scoring punch, and as great as Campbell is on the PP, Barker's emergence this season would minimize the loss of Campbell.

If the Hawks were to entice the Sens with younger players, VERSTEEG! and Barker, along with maybe Brouwer or Skille would give the Sens some depth - they look like the Kings from the old Triple Crown Line days, where the majority of their offense is coming from a single line. They need to build a second line, and a couple young forwards would help them do that.

The one thing is, the Sens can't afford to take on any additional salary, they're too tight against the cap. The Hawks can put a nice package together, but it would have to be right around Heater's money.

ChiBlackhawks said:

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I'll have to disagree-- the Blackhawks have enough offensive depth that another high-scorer won't make sense, considering especially the amount of money he commands.

Our defense is what needs work, and though Barker and Hjalmarsson have been developing well enough, you have to wonder how much of that is influenced by Campbell's presence on the ice. Remember, before the emergence of Keith and Seabrook as our top d-men this year they spent quite a few years learning (and generally, d-men do take longer to develop as NHL-level players) how to play well first.

Campbell has had a fluke-y season but he DID put up the points and he IS learning to be more responsible defensively. (Plus, he didn't have a shutdown d-man to partner with him until Hjalmarsson came up later this season-- you'll notice his play picked up from when he was with Walker.) I think he should stay on the team, and someone else can fight for Heatley.

CT said:

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I'm not as down on Campbell as some, but I'd make the trade in a second, if it was available. Heatley more than makes up for a loss of Havlat, and gives the Hawks the entire $12MM vacated by Marty and Khabi's contracts to work with. They can use some of that cash on extensions, or get another defenseman if need be. The defensive corps looks a lot better now than it did at the beginning of this season, with Brent Seabrook finally stepping up and Cam Barker playing well.

The only thing that might give me pause is would shipping Campbell out now hurt the Hawks reputation with UFA's? Campbell took a long term deal here because Chicago's offer was the best combination of money/playoff success (let's not forget that Atlanta would have given him more dough). Not sure you want to send a message to any potential UFA's that the Organ-I-zation is willing to bail on a guy they signed long-term after only one year.

Forklift said:

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I would guess, though, that the Sens are looking more for a multi-player package, in hopes of putting a second scoring line together.

cubby23(eric) said:

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Heatley's a premier goal scorer with a proven track record.

Ottawa would be foolish to give him up for anything less than a package involving Kane, Hjalmarsson, Barker, Versteeg, etc... I know it sounds crazy but when you have a proven goal scorer and you deal him the price tag is always higher than you think, and it often hurts a little to include decent or quality young players, but that's usually what it takes.

Such a deal for Heatley would surely garner Ottawa more than just Campbell (who is overpaid despite the assets he does bring to the table). Ottawa wouldn't subtract a premier goal scorer and pt. producer for a pp QB with an errant shot and a slight case of the giveaways at an inopportune time, would they?

I recall in the pre-cap era Winnipeg and Buffalo exchanged Dale Hawerchuk and Phil Housley (even that deal involved draft picks that turned into something:Keith Tkachuk), but I just don't see a Soupy for Heatley deal as enough for the Senators to bite.

Mike Kiley said:

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No question it would be more than a 1-for-1. It would set off a chain reaction of two or three deals to reshape the team. But reshaping is often better than standing pat. History shows how badly things can fall off in all sports when promise turns to what-happened?

hoorock said:

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Man...I had to create an entire profile just because I'm mad at how asinine this suggestion is and can't let it go.

The Blackhawks biggest need going into last offseason was getting a puck-moving power play QB of a defenceman and they got (by far) the best guy available in Campbell. Now, a year later, after Campbell is 2nd on the team in assists and 10th in the entire league in D-man scoring, his contract is too much and we need to trade him?

And did I mention that he and Seabrook were the only two defencemen to play all 82 games?

Geez....anybody that actually watched this team in 08-09 saw that we got exactly what we thought we were getting with Campbell all season and if they're disappointed, they didn't do their homework on him prior to this year. He's one of maybe a dozen difference-making defencemen in the entire league and will be great for years to come.

And that's not to say that Heatley's not a terrific player - he's one of the premier talent's in the league - but suggesting that by trading Campbell for Heatley we'd be getting "out from under Campbell" means that you think it was a bad signing in the first place. It wasn't. Campbell was the single biggest addition to a team that went from 9th in the western conference to western conference finalists in one season.

And if I hear one person suggest that Barker in a few years could become Brian Campbell, I will jump through your computer and kick you in the face. He's a bigger defensive liability (lowest +/- on the team, anyone?), has much less hockey acumen, is worse positionally on defense, is a significantly slower skater and can't make a decent entry pass to save his life. You're looking for bad money to shed at the right time? I think you've found your man. If anybody wants to pay Cam Barker 3MM+ per year to stand around on defense like a parking cone, then it's a good thing you're not a GM...we could just pay Matt Walker 600K/year to do that.

Mike Kiley said:

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Well, I know there are some people in NHL front offices that think Campbell is soft and won't win in a pinch. Campbell has obvious talents. But $7.1 million worth? That's arguable. But he is important to the power play, no question about that. I guess I'm split on the entire issue, but respect how much you like Campbell.

Mike Kiley said:

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One more thing. Thanks for creating the profile. You can give me grief any time. Everyone else does. Come back and rattle my cage. I'm used to it.

Forklift said:

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My face is available.

Kick at your own risk.

hoorock said:

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Sorry for the late response to your points. I'm glad to be signed in, Mike ,and glad to have this forum and others to discuss the Blackhawks. Forums like this were dead or non-existent in seasons past, which people seem to forget.

That being said...I still completely disagree about trading Campbell as a good move in any way shape or form.

Mike Kiley said: "Well, I know there are some people in NHL front offices that think Campbell is soft and won't win in a pinch."

I'm guessing that this came from San Jose where Campbell spurned them for greener pastures here. After the signing I remember the SJ spin machine selling us on how the trade for Boyle made them a better team than with BC. And how Boyle was a more complete player, was tougher, etc etc. How'd that work out for San Jose in the end, guys? Campbell stepped up his play on the physical side during the playoffs and has proven to be neither soft nor incapable of hitting when needed. He gets a lifetime pass on that "soft" talk for the Umberger hit alone.

I've got a few more points that I'll make regarding Campbell's production versus his salary and Barker's "production" in relative terms, but those have to wait til the next post tomorrow.

Mike Kiley said:

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From everyone I talk to, and I admit that's not hundreds or thousands in the NHL, the question is whether the Blackhawks overpaid for Campbell. The consensus of people I know think they did. When you give someone that much money, you should know whether they have the personality to live up to it. So far, to me, the jury is out on that with Campbell.

Forklift said:

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I have, on several occasions, compared Campbell's contract to that of Alfonso Soriano.

Both have flaws in their game, to be sure. We knew that when they got here. Still, they got more money and years than they probably should have. In each case, however, the team signing them was out to prove they were major players in the free agent market, and no free agent should sign anything until they find out Chicago's intentions.

As for Barker vs. Campbell, the dollars-per-point production alone is enough comparison.

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