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The mighty fall of Dany Heatley

Jul 13, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

Dany Heatley AP

There are quite a few things that are stunning about Anaheim Ducks forward Dany Heatley. Let’s consider some of the broadest points first:

  • Somehow, he’s only 33 years old.
  • He saw a Gomezian drop from a cap hit perspective, as he took up $7.5 million with the Minnesota Wild and now just $1 million with the Ducks. (His actual salary drop is more modest, yet he still cost the Wild $5 million last season.)
  • More than a few people think that he’s not even worth $1 million … and they’re not being outrageously unfair by saying so, either.

It’s stunning to ponder just how far this two-time 50-goal and 100-point producer has fallen in less than a decade. The Hockey News’ Jason Kay points out that the publication ran a cover story touting him as “The Face of the NHL” just eight years ago.

Cold by any metric

Even just looking at scoring alone, he’s basically gotten worse every year (noting the abbreviated 2012-13 season):

2009-10 (with the San Jose Sharks) – 39 goals, 82 points
2010-11 (also with the Sharks) – 26 goals, 64 points
2011-12 (first with Minnesota Wild) – 24 goals, 53 points
2012-13 (with the Wild) – 11 goals, 21 points in 36 games
2013-14 (final with the Wild) – 12 goals, 28 points

(The most dramatic moments came when he was a $7.5 million healthy scratch in the 2014 playoffs, but the bigger picture isn’t pretty.)

Normally, it might be fair to consider other things like time spent killing penalties, but Heatley logged 37 seconds of shorthanded time last season. This isn’t a matter of being doomed by bad puck luck, either; Heatley’s shooting percentage hasn’t ever dipped below the 10.9 mark from last season. Going deeper with advanced stats doesn’t help the hobbling winger’s cause, either, as his possession numbers declined even as he faced easier situations.

By any reasonable account, Heatley seems like he’s toast … although he vehemently disagrees.

Getzlaf – Perry or bust

The question is: can the Ducks get anywhere near $1 million worth of value out of him (ignoring the “holding back budding prospects” argument for the sake of brevity).

Say what you will about Heatley, it at least seems like he’s aware of easily the most likely scenario in which he makes an impact: finishing opportunities created by the Ryan GetzlafCorey Perry combo. It almost seems like his stated goal, really:

“My job is to get in shape and be ready to play with those two guys,” Heatley said. “I know those guys, and I’ve played with both of them, particularly Getzy. I love playing with the guy. He’s one of the best players in the league, as is Corey Perry. We’ll see what Bruce [Boudreau] wants to do. But my job is to be ready to go and be ready to get a chance with those two guys.”

Considering the enormous gulf between Getzlaf (87 points), Perry (82) and everyone else (Nick Bonino scored the third-most points with 49 and he was traded to Vancouver), it’s easy to see the best-case scenario for Heatley. It’s also reasonable to imagine, as the Ducks’ dynamic duo didn’t really see a regular linemate last season once Dustin Penner was traded.

***

Despite a lot of evidence to the contrary, Heatley could fall into the perfect situation in which the Ducks get the most out of him … if he has anything left, that is.

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