Ratto: Heatley was No. 1 gamble for Sharks' Wilson

Ratto: Heatley was No. 1 gamble for Sharks' Wilson
July 4, 2011, 4:20 am
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July 3, 2011

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Dany Heatley was supposed to be utterly immovable, as well as occasionally immobile. He was the Sharks issue, for good and bad, for years and years to come.And now, he is a member of the Minnesota Wild, just like Devin Setoguchi, and the sound you hear is people dragging their jaws at the gravel line in shock.In fact, his lack of trade-ability wasnt quite ironclad -- There was a window in his contract that allowed this move to be made, general manager Doug Wilson said. It had just opened. It was included in his deal from Ottawa.

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But it was hard for mere laymen to imagine a team that saw Heatley in 2010-11 and would want him, which only goes to show that where theres a window, theres a way.
And the window was actually created by neither Heatley nor Havlat, but by Setoguchi.When we did the (Brent) Burns deal, we got the top-line defenseman we were looking for, but we lost some of the speed we need in our top-six forwards, Wilson said. We could move Joe Pavelski into our top six, which is where he belongs anyway, and we were able to fill his spot when he signed (Michal) Handzus, but we still didnt have the speed guy we needed.Wilson didnt say whether he initiated the Havlat conversation with Minnesota general manager Chuck Fletcher, or whether Fletcher initiated the Heatley conversation with Wilson.
He didnt even say when it began. Hes a bit of an iron-pants that way.But Havlat said he was presented with the deal early Sunday to yea or nay, and Heatley had submitted his no-gos dutifully on July 1. Havlat said yes, Heatley didnt need to be asked, and the deal was dealt.REWIND: Sharks get their top-class defenseman in BurnsHeatleys footprint in San Jose could have and maybe should have been deeper. He was Wilsons biggest gamble ever -- a player who hated where he was (Ottawa), didnt want to go to a place that wanted him (Edmonton), and ended up in another (San Jose) that needed another sniper to replace the fallen Jonathan Cheechoo and the never-quite-was Milan Michalek.It was a swing for the fences that never reached the warning track. Heatley became less and less vital as time went on, the Sharks improved around him without putting him or them any closer to a Stanley Cup than he was in 2007 with the Senators.It was, in short, a deal for a right now that never came and still hasnt arrived. It is supposed to be closer with the additions of Burns, Handzus and Jim Vandermeer, the promotion of Pavelski back to his preferred place in the line of succession, and now Havlat. But weve thought that before, and were not even sure that Wilson is done changing the guard yet.San Jose has 20 players signed and 6,192,500 in cap space still to play with now that Havlat has given them 2.5M in extra room.RELATED: Havlat career stats splits game logs
But Havlat will always be known here not as the cap room pixie or as the speedy winger, but as the guy who got Heatley moved when it looked like he couldnt be shifted. At 31, he has his own pedigree -- in Ottawa while the Senators went from bad to good and then sent to Chicago before the Sens reached the Cup final, in Chicago for two years but not the one in which the Blackhawks won the title. He has been in the right stations but standing at the wrong track.In addition, he has more years and money left on his contract than Heatley.
Havlat is signed through 2015, with salaries of 5 million, 5 million, 5 million and 6 million. Heatley is Minnesotas for three more years at 8M, 6M and 5M. The difference was that Heatleys cap number per year was 7.5M, while Havlats is only 5M per year. Hence the cap benefit to San Jose. Minnesota was barely over the cap floor of 48M before the Heatley trade, so that may have forced Fletcher's hand as well.In other words, two enormous salaries crossing as ships in the night, and new surroundings that may or may not work better than the ones they inhabited.PHT: Another Wild trade
Heatley had one interesting but vaguely unsatisfying season and one profoundly frustrating one in San Jose. Havlat has just arrived in his fourth city in six years, and is seven years since his high-water mark as a goal-scorer. He was a mild disappointment in Minnesota, where the Wild has been traditionally below average offensively, and has been in the postseason only once.That is likely to change, but making the playoffs will be a bigger deal for him than for his new mates. He will be asked to be part of a greater whole, and a whole that needs to be greater.In the meantime, the Heatley Era is over, almost before it began. The lesson, as Michael Corleone once told us all: Nothing is impossible.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com.