MONTREAL – Bryan Murray wanted to have the Dany Heatley situation settled by the end of the first round of the NHL entry draft.
It didn’t happen.
The Ottawa Senators general manager expressed some frustration Friday over the slow pace of trade talks regarding his top sniper as teams continue to nibble without offering anything of substance.
“I have talked to a couple of teams,” Murray said. “But we’re just beating around the bush, it appears right now.”
Heatley requested a trade a month ago, despite having five years left on a US$45 million, six-year contract, with Murray fielding offers for the star scorer ever since.
Those offers haven’t come close to meeting Murray’s demands and he appears resigned to leaving draft weekend without a deal in place.
“We’ve talked a lot, but we never really had any inkling that tonight we were going to do the deal,” Murray said. “I’ve watched some other contracts get traded, I believe it’s possible. It’s not so much the contract that’s in play, it’s the calibre of player in play.
“I have to protect the organization and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Heatley is due a $4-million bonus on July 1, and Murray has made that the likely deadline for a trade to be made.
“If we get to that stage,” Murray said, “then it probably won’t happen.”
On a more positive note for the Senators, the team took hulking defenceman Jared Cowen of the Spokane Chiefs with the ninth overall pick in the draft.
Cowen, who stands six foot five and weighs 220 pounds, fills a desperate need for size on the blue-line, said Senators chief scout Pierre Dorion.
With those dimensions, Ottawa fans might be tempted to compare Cowen to former Senators defenceman Zdeno Chara, but Dorion says that wouldn’t be fair.
“No one compares to Chara, not taking anything from Jared Cowen,” Dorion said. “Jared Cowen will be a solid defensive-minded defencemen, he’ll play in our top four in the future and log a lot of minutes for us.”
The risk with Cowen is that he suffered a devastating knee injury in January and only got back on the ice for the first time last Wednesday.
Cowen, who was born in Allan, Sask., tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee and also suffered a partial tear of his meniscus, but Sens team doctor Don Chow examined the knee Thursday and gave the Senators the green light.
“I didn’t really know what to expect, I didn’t know if it would affect me too much,” Cowen said of how the injury may have impacted his draft standing.
“I think it has a little bit but I’m definitely not disappointed right now. I’m happy to be going to Ottawa, so I think it was a blessing in disguise.”