When Dany Heatley was traded from the San Jose Sharks to the Minnesota Wild back in 2011, the Wild were thrilled to be acquiring a former, two-time 50-goal scorer. The thought of having Heatley lead the offensive charge in Minnesota was enough to give up sniper Martin Havlat in what appeared to be a win-win trade for both clubs.
But Heatley’s first year in Minnesota wasn’t his best. In fact it was the worst of his professional career leaving many critics wondering if he can recover to the fine form that made him a threat every time he was on the ice. With the current lockout in full effect and no end in sight, perhaps there is no one more in need of a new CBA than Heatley so he can attempt to bounce back to those days when opposing goaltenders feared the former Calder Trophy winner.
Give the puck to Heatley and there’s a good chance it’ll wind up in the net. That was the way he used to be perceived when he played in Ottawa and averaged 45 goals over four seasons for the Senators. But it’s been a steady decline since, notching 39 and 26 respectively during two seasons in San Jose and a mere 24 goals last year in Minnesota.
Having a 20-goal man on any team is an advantage to have, but when he’s making $8 million a year, his production needs to be higher which is the case with Heatley. That’s roughly $333,000 per goal and that’s not exactly what the Wild had in mind when they acquired the 31-year old.
Injuries have never been a problem for Heatley over the past seven seasons as he’s missed just a combined 13 games over that span. Last season he played in all 82-games for the Wild and lighting the lamp 24 times to go with 29 assits (53 points) is un-Heatley like. The former 1st-round draft pick could benefit directly from the signing of Zach Parise providing the two are line mates in what would surely be the Wild’s top line. But he still has to be the one to produce and score the goals.
He’s in the second last year of his 6-year deal that will see him make $6MM this year (should there be a season) and a drop to $5MM next year. The pressure is on for Heatley to rebound and produce numbers that are more up to his standards if he hopes to cash in on the free-agent market in two years.
Losing a full season will most certainly take a greater impact on the older players in the league and at 31-years of age, Heatley would be considered a savvy veteran with ten years of experience on his resume. Not saying he can’t come back next year if there is a full year off and score 40-goals, but a year layoff and another year older makes this season a must have for Heatley in many fashions. Not only to keep his skills sharp but to prove the doubters wrong that he still has the ability to produce a point per game which will go a long way in negotiations when he becomes a free-agent. Of course if he rebounds this season, or next, the Wild might look at holding onto him, making this year important for Heatley and the Wild.
Who knew there was so much at stake over the lockout?