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Things heating up in Oil Country

Rumours fly as entry draft, free agent day approach

Tuesday, 09.06.2009 / 6:08 PM / Blogs
By Dan Tencer
Will Ottawa Senators forward Dany Heatley move his sticks to Rexall Place in 2009-10? Only time will tell. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Sean Kilpatrick)
It could be a busy couple of weeks for Oilers General Manager Steve Tambellini leading up to the draft. With news breaking today that Ottawa Senators forward Dany Heatley has asked for a trade out of Ottawa, it's easy to draw a straight line between the two clubs given that the Oilers need scoring help and Ottawa needs mobility on their blueline. Heatley's $7.5M per year cap hit wouldn't be an issue if one of the Oilers top 3 defensemen went back the other way as part of the deal. It's not groundbreaking, but I can confirm the Oilers are interested in acquiring this player and will contact Ottawa to see if a deal can be had.

There are two areas of concern being reiterated today about Dany Heatley: his poor physical fitness and questions about his committment. I'm told that the Oilers recognize these concerns but feel that he's simply too good of a player to pass up a chance at acquiring. The early belief is that the foundation of the package would require a top 4 defenseman and a top 6 forward.

On another note, I've reported in the past month or so that the Oilers are interested in moving up to draft higher than 10th overall on June 26th in Montreal and I'm told today that there's a possibility that the 2nd overall pick might be in play.

Multiple sources within the Oilers organization tell me that it's a widely known fact in NHL circles that the New York Islanders are promoting the belief that they are going to draft Swedish defenseman Victor Hedman with the first overall pick. I can confirm that the Tampa Bay Lightning, drafting 2nd overall, are also gunning to draft Hedman and would be, at the very least, more likely to trade their pick should Hedman go 1st overall to New York. I'm told that the Lightning would be looking for, at least primarily, help on the blueline in exchange for the 2nd overall selection. I'm led to believe that the Oilers have expressed interest in acquiring the pick with their sights set on drafting OHL standout John Tavares.

The possibility exists, though, that the Islanders are simply putting up a smokescreen with the Hedman tidbit. And, even if the Islanders do take Hedman, a source in Tampa Bay told me this afternoon that the Lightning would not likely spend more than $48M in player's salaries this coming season and it would be difficult to take on the salary required to make a good hockey deal in exchange for the 2nd overall draft choice. Sources on both sides acknowledge that the most likely course of action is for Tampa to make the pick at #2, but will listen to offers if Hedman goes 1st overall.

In either case, the Oilers remain with a desire to move up in the draft and will continue to make attempts at doing so, whether it be the 2nd overall choice or otherwise.

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