Burke, Heatley, and the Power of Perception

I don't think it's unreasonable to say that the Kings are in the cat bird's seat for this draft.  (It is, however, very foppish to say "cat bird's seat.")  I would assume the first 3 spots in the draft are virtually unreachable, as Tavares, Hedman and Duchene have separated themselves from the rest of the pack.  The 4th pick might be reachable, but I doubt Atlanta is anxious to give up the opportunity to draft Evander Kane.  That leaves the Kings with the first real open slot in the draft, barring some sort of crazy trade.  There are two popular theories out there about what the Kings might do with the pick: either trade it along with some other stuff for Dany Heatley, or they're going to move back to spots and let the Maple Leafs draft Brayden Schenn and pick up someone like Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi.  While the likely result is still that the Kings will simply draft Brayden Schenn, both offers are enticing.  The key here, though, is the power of perception.  I think that power will ultimately nix the Dany Heatley deal and might clinch the Toronto deal.

 

Dany Heatley is a fantastic player.  He's a consistent goal scorer, one of those guys that is a goal scoring leader almost every year.  There's a difference between players like Heatley and Heatley and guys like Ryan Smyth or Jonathan Cheechoo, guys that happen to have a great year.  With 5 guys on the ice, goal scoring can be kind of a luck thing, but the truly great ones can overcome that luck and consistently score a certain amount of goals.  That's definitely worth something.  How much is a matter of debate. 

 The problem the Kings have in trading for Dany Heatley is that they can't really trade anyone on their roster that the Senators would actually want.  The guys that Ottawa would probably want are: Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty, Justin Williams, Wayne Simmonds, Jack Johnson, Alex Frolov and maybe Matt Greene.  They're all important parts of the team and in most cases would be untouchable because of either contract reasons or because they're awesome.  The only two guys that are really available are Alex Frolov and Jack Johnson.  The problem with Frolov is that he's the only left wing on the entire team.  Trading him for Dany Heatley is an upgrade, sure, but the Kings are still left with the same problem they had before they traded for Dany Heatley.  Johnson could probably be had, but is he a big enough piece to satiate Ottawa fans?  If the Kings packaged together Johnson with, say, Oscar Moller and the 5th overall, would that be enough?  I think that would be the best deal Ottawa is going to get, but I don't think it'll be the one they want.  Moller and whoever the 5th overall ended up being would instantly be the Senator's best two prospects and Johnson would probably love to play in Canada, but I think Senators fans would probably be upset with that.  They want to compete next year (as they should) and they don't want prospects.  I imagine Bryan Murray will probably wipe his mouth and say he needs someone bigger, like Frolov, and Dean will say no.  And that'll be the end of that.

 

The other option, like I said, is to trade down to the 7th overall.  The popular pick for the Kings (and one I made in my mock draft) is Brayden Schenn, but no one knows what is in the head of Dean Lombardi.  No one thought he would pick Thomas Hickey, but he did, so everyone thought he wouldn't pick Doughty last year, but he did.  He's, like Ron Burgundy might say, a mysterious fig.  There's definitely a possibility Dean might have someone in mind (Jordan Schroeder) that he would probably take over Brayden Schenn (Jordan Schroeder) and he is probably willing to trade the pick to Toronto and draft someone else 7th (Jordan Schroeder).

But here's that perception thing again.  If Brian Burke has a flaw as a GM, it's that he likes to be cute.  He traded up to nab both the Sedins in 1999, he conspired with the Niedermayers to bring them together in Anaheim, and I think he probably wants both Schenn's in Toronto.  Dean probably knows this too.  There's a report in the Ottawa Citizen today with a quote from Brian Burke that reads, "Everyone's being entirely unreasonable," and I think he's right.  I think Dean is telling him, "Look, Brian, I know how much having both Schenn's in Toronto would mean to your franchise, both on and off the ice.  I'll trade down to the 7th if you throw in either Tomas Kaberle or Pavel Kubina."  That's of course ridiculous, but Lombardi wants a veteran defenseman on the team.  He could try to sign Mattias Ohlund on July 1st, but why not get someone better than him with a better contract in Tomas Kaberle?  If Burke says no, then Lombardi could just stand pat and select Brayden Schenn and everyone's happy; Burke can draft someone else and let the press criticize him (because he's in Toronto and that's what they do).  I think the idea of having the 2 Schenn's and being able to stand there with a big smile on his face in front of all those cameras might be too much for him to ignore.

 

So those are the two big draft day possibilities to watch for tomorrow.  The key in both instances is that Dean Lombardi can do nothing and still come out a winner on draft day.  The distractions surrounding Dany Heatley won't go away until he is moved and Toronto fans will feel like kids who thought they were getting a bike for Christmas and ended up with that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle blimp that would never stay inflated for more than 2 minutes.  I don't know, we'll have to wait and see.  God do I hate waiting.

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