Over the course of the next month, Konopkaesque will review each player who suited up for the Wild this season, with a few exceptions. 1) They had to play at least ten games during the season and/or playoffs (sorry, Brett Bulmer, Carson McMillan and John Curry) and 2) they had to finish the season as part of the organization, which ironically excludes the man for whom this blog is named, among others.
So, without further blathering, here’s today’s subject:
Dany Heatley, LW, Age 33
Remaining contract (per capgeek):UFA in 2014
Games: 76 (Regular Season) 11 (Playoffs)
Goals: 12 (Regular Season) 16 (Playoffs)
Assists: 16 (Regular Season) 5 (Playoffs)
+/-: -18 (Regular Season) +6 (Playoffs)
PIM: 18 (Regular Season) 4 (Playoffs)
ATOI: 14:49 (Regular Season) 11:33 (Playoffs)
What Did He Do?: Heatley continued his long, slow, painful decline right in front of our eyes during the regular season. His offensive output was the worst full-season tally of his career, and he often looked too slow to keep up with the pace of the game on many nights. He suffered the ultimate indignity for a player who was twice a 100 point scorer in the NHL; he was a healthy scratch on March 29th for the first time in his career. It was the worst-case scenario for a player who made more money than anyone on the team not named Parise or Suter (he made almost as much as each).
What Heatley deserves credit for was the way he handled the situation. He never pouted. He never obtusely inferred that he was still the best option for a top six forward position. He took each demotion in stride, at least publicly. Yes, he was a drag on the team, and the best talking point regarding Heatley was how much money the Wild would have freed up when he leaves over the Summer, but before you rake Heatley over the coals, remember that the contract he played under was signed in 2008, when he was 27 years old and coming off of a season in which he scored 41 goals. In addition, he made two of the biggest plays of Minnesota’s signature victory in game 7 against Colorado, first scoring a deft tying goal in the second period, and later the first pass that led to the 2-0n-1 that ultimately became Nino Niederreiter’s winning goal.
What to Expect if You’re Expecting: Firs, the obvious. Heatley will have a new address in July. He is certainly heading for a one or two year contract to try and kick start his career again (a long shot as he’ll be 34 in January). He’ll never be Dany Heatley again, but he can improve on this season, and he can do it, somewhat ironically, by emulating a man who works for the team he’ll be leaving in a week: a certain Andrew Brunette.
Heatley’s skating has left him, that much is certain, but he still possesses offensive instincts and a relatively decent shot. Brunette, on the other hand, never had skating ability, and needed to live around the net and use his instincts to survive in the NHL from day one. If Heatley can remodel his game to be more like Brunette, he could preserve himself as a useful player in the NHL, likely as a power play specialist. Otherwise, his value to an NHL team is close to zero.
Trade Prospects?: Given that his stats have declined for five consecutive years, and that impending free agency is the worst kept secret this side of Thomas Vanek, I’d say any GM who makes a play for Heatley should seriously consider armed protection.
Season Highlight: This was pretty much the only good thing to happen to Heatley all season, so I threw in the entire game seven just to make him feel better: