One thing you can say about Milan Michalek is that he’s no Dany Heatley. And that would probably be a good thing given Heatley’s status as Public Enemy No. 1 in Ottawa these days.
But there’s little doubt the Senators’ success in the Heatley trade will be measured by what they get from Michalek. To that end, it doesn’t really matter whether Heatley flourishes and is a perennial 50-goal scorer for the San Jose Sharks because he put them in an untenable situation when he demanded a trade. The Senators had no choice, so the focus shifts to Michalek.
If Jonathan Cheechoo ever rediscovers anything close to the scoring touch when he won the Rocket Richard Trophy with 56 goals in 2005-06 and followed that with a 37-goal season the next year, it will be a bonus. But to be honest, nobody is counting on that, least of all the Senators, who obviously don’t feel Cheechoo has earned a position among the team’s top six forwards.
For now, at least, Michalek has taken Heatley’s spot as the left winger on the top line alongside Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson, but the fact is Michalek probably couldn’t be more different than Heatley.
And once again, that might be a good thing.
To be sure, Michalek is bigger and much more physical than Heatley could ever be. He’s just shy of four years younger than Heatley and comes with a much more manageable salary cap hit.
Like Heatley, Michalek has top-shelf speed, but unlike Heatley, Michalek definitely does not have top-shelf hands.
But here’s the biggest difference and it’s one the Senators might like. Michalek will work the corners for Spezza and Alfredsson the way Heatley could not. That should result in a decent number of loose pucks for Spezza to either bury himself or dish off to Alfredsson.
Michalek has certainly been given the chance to shine. It’s time for the anti-Dany Heatley to show what he can do.
Daniel Alfredsson’s second-period goal on a penalty shot gave the Ottawa Senators a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs last night.