Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sharks Make Bold But Correct Decision In Trading Dany Heatley

In yet another blockbuster deal, the San Jose Sharks have dealt All-Star forward Dany Heatley to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Martin Havlat. A move many did not expect, the Sharks traded away one of the NHL’s elite goal scorers only two years into his tenure. Heatley was expected to thrive in the powerful Shark offense, feeding off of slick passes from fellow All-Star Joe Thornton, yet he failed to live up to his lofty expectations. Heatley scored 39 goals in his first season, and 26 last year. Over 35 playoff games, he would only net 5 goals. One could never question Heatley’s talent and ability, but his heart has always been an issue. Many feel he does not possess that killer instinct needed to be a dominant force night after night, and after a long grind of 82 games leading into a post-season, that passion and motivation is what carries you to a Stanley Cup. With the Sharks coming off of another disappointing loss in the Western Conference Finals to the Vancouver Canucks, GM Doug Wilson seems to be determined to take his team to the next level, no matter what the cost may be. Dany Heatley departs the Sharks having played in 669 career games with Atlanta, Ottawa, and San Jose. He has 689 points over his 10 year career (325 goals, 364 assists.) The Minnesota Wild get an extreme talent with no heart in their acquisition of “Heater.”

Martin Havlat, a former teammate of Heatley in Ottawa, is a talented veteran wing, and former All-Star, with plenty of postseason experience and success. He has appeared in 67 career Stanley Cup Playoff Games, scoring 49 points, including 28 points in his last 26 games. An 11-year veteran, Havlat has played in Ottawa, Chicago, and Minnesota.

In 621 regular season games, Havlat has earned 512 points (209 goals, 303 assists.) Not the flashy, cocky player Heatley has been known to be, Havlat is a tough nosed forward who comes to life in big moments. This shows true in his Stanley Cup Playoff performances and consistency on the ice. A knock against Havlat is that he is somewhat injury prone, having never played a full 82 game season and missing considerable time over stretches with Ottawa and Chicago. If Havlat can avoid serious injury, his on-ice presence, grittiness and speed will be a welcomed addition to the already potent Shark offense, lead by perennial All-Star Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Ryane Clowe, and talented second-year Forward Logan Couture.

The Sharks have been contenders year after year, yet have always failed to make it over the hump. Over their 20 year existence, they have been in the Stanley Cup Playoffs 14 times, yet have never reached the Stanley Cup Finals. With the acquisitions of top tier defenseman Brent Burns and now Havlat, Doug Wilson and the Sharks are moving in the right direction to change the curse the franchise has faced since its conception, and possibly have the opportunity to hoist their first Stanley Cup. Shark fans throughout hockey have been dying to host the Finals at the Tank, considered to be the loudest arena in all of hockey, and that dream might soon come true.

Written by Five Tool Sports Hockey Analyst Derek Ugland

You can follow him on Twitter: @dsmoothe32

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