Heatley ready to be go-to scorer in Minnesota
The Minnesota Wild have been searching for the kind of dynamic
goal scorer who can put the puck in the net in the blink of an eye,
a player who won’t hesitate to let a shot rip from anywhere in the
opposing goaltender’s zip code, ever since Marian Gaborik left in
Here comes Dany Heatley, who never met a shot on goal he didn’t
like, determined to show the rest of the league he can still light
the lamp with the best of them.
The Wild landed Heatley from San Jose on Sunday night, sending
forward Marty Havlat to the Sharks in a straight-up swap of two
30-year-old wingers. Heatley said Monday he was excited to be
coming to Minnesota and couldn’t wait to prove that last year’s
sub-par season was a fluke.
”As a goal scorer and a player, you want to be that guy,”
Heatley had back-to-back 50-goal seasons in 2005-06 and 2006-07
for the Ottawa Senators, but finished with only 26 goals last
season for the Sharks. Heatley played a month and a half with a
broken hand and said he had several other nagging injuries that
held him back.
”Last year wasn’t the greatest year for me personally, but I’m
looking forward to getting back there,” Heatley said.
After the Sharks flamed out in the playoffs yet again, San Jose
GM Doug Wilson was looking to switch things up. He found a willing
partner in Wild GM Chuck Fletcher, whose team has missed the
playoffs in both of his seasons as the team’s top executive.
Fletcher fired coach Todd Richards, replacing him with the
Houston Aeros’ Mike Yeo, and then sent All-Star defenseman Brent
Burns to the Sharks for a package that included 24-year-old goal
scorer Devin Setoguchi on draft night.
Fletcher said the biggest priority heading into the offseason
was injecting some juice into a team that finished 30th in the
league in shots on goal and had too many players who were better
suited to passing and setting up others than finishing the plays
Havlat seemed to be one of those players. He tied for the team
lead last season with 62 points, but only 22 of those came on
”Marty Havlat is one of the better offensive forwards in the
league,” Fletcher said. ”You look at this trade, it’s two pretty
good hockey players trading places. Some hockey players fit into
some teams better than others. I think we’ve seen a lot of that
Fletcher brushed aside character questions about Heatley, who
asked to be traded out of previous stops in Atlanta and Ottawa.
Fletcher said the team did an extensive background check, as it
does with every acquisition.
”Dany’s a quality person and somebody who will fit well in our
room,” he said.
He’ll have a familiar face in Setoguchi. The two were close
buddies in San Jose, though it would seem likely that Heatley will
play with Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard on the Wild’s top
line, while Setoguchi will be the shooter on the second line to
balance the offense.
”Our lack of goal scoring is well documented. Our inability to
shoot the puck is well documented,” Fletcher said. ”We’ve
acquired two players who are able to complement the players on our
team real well.”
Heatley has three years and $19 million left on his contract,
while Havlat has four years and $20 million remaining on the deal
he signed with Minnesota two years ago.
”We have a lot of salary cap space,” Fletcher said. ”Dany has
a higher salary cap number than Marty does, but Marty has another
year on his contract. There certainly are no issues from that
Heatley has a history of struggling in the playoffs, but the
Wild would love to see him have a chance to redeem himself in that
area. The franchise has missed the postseason for three straight
years, making even one of the most supportive fan bases in hockey
start to get a little impatient.
”We’re there to get back in the playoffs, no question,”
Heatley said of Setoguchi and himself. ”Once you’re in the
playoffs, it’s a whole new season. They have a good team. They were
a good team last year, and I think they’re better team this
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