Dany Heatley could have lost his way to San Jose.
A player the Sharks were offering for the disgruntled Senators winger — defenceman Christian Ehrhoff — was dealt to the Canucks Friday in a four-player trade.
Sharks GM Doug Wilson also traded veteran defenceman Brad Lukowich to Vancouver for a pair of prospects, 20-year-old centre Patrick White and 22-year-old defenceman Daniel Rahimi.
The deal does free up $5 million (all terms US) in cap space for the Sharks; Ehrhoff will make $3.15 million this season and Lukowich $1.8 million.
But sources say the deal indicates the Sharks could be headed in a different direction, away from Heatley.
San Jose could be resigned to keeping pricey winger Patrick Marleau, who, like Heatley, has been unwilling to waive his no-movement clause. Marleau’s cap hit this season is $6.2 million and Heatley’s is $7.5 million.
Earlier this summer, the Senators turned down Ehrhoff, winger Jonathan Cheechoo and a No. 1 pick for Heatley.
But GM Bryan Murray is still actively trying to deal Heatley before camp opens Sept. 12.
League sources say the Sharks are among a couple of teams that have interest in Heatley, but Wilson said the deal he made yesterday “makes sense.”
“When the right thing is there,” Wilson told the San Jose Mercury News, referring to trade talks, “having that flexibility is a wonderful thing under this system, being able to explore things or put closure to them. When the timing is right and it makes sense to both teams, you have the flexibility and those things can happen.”
Also, talk won’t go away that the Sharks are set to give Bruins restricted free-agent winger Phil Kessel an offer sheet.
As reported earlier this summer by Sun Media, Heatley’s agents, J.P. Barry and Stacey McAlpine, have been given Murray’s permission to broker a deal.
After Heatley turned down a deal to the Oilers on July 1, it’s believed the Rangers, Kings and Hawks remain on his wish list.
The Senators don’t want to bring Heatley back for camp for what would be a distracting sideshow, but they could be left with no choice.
Murray wants to get as much as possible for the two-time 50-goal scorer, but has received only mild interest.
Heatley’s public comments 10 days ago — his first all summer — about a “diminished” role under coach Cory Clouston could have done more harm than good to his market value and chances of being traded, a league executive said.
“Every time he opens his mouth, he makes it even tougher for Ottawa to trade him,” said the executive. “There’s not a lot of interest right now. Teams can’t afford to take on a $7.5-million salary and if they can, they’re not sure if Heatley is the right guy to put into the mix.
“The Senators are in a tough spot. Who knows? It might heat up now. Teams want to have their rosters set for training camp and with players getting ready to report, it might make the teams involved feel a sense of urgency to get a deal done.”