Ducks Hope Heatley Fills Revolving Door at Left Wing
The audition to find a left wing to play with captain Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry lasted all last season for the Anaheim Ducks.
Dustin Penner rebooted his career there before he was traded. There was also Patrick Maroon, Matt Beleskey, Kyle Palmieri, Jakob Silfverberg and Devante Smith-Pelly. Coach Bruce Boudreau estimated he tried at least 10 players there.
Anaheim certainly would like Dany Heatley to end the tryout.
The Ducks signed the veteran left wing to a low-risk, one-year, $1 million contract July 9 in the hopes that Heatley can channel the sniper capability that has defined most of his 12-year career.
"Every time we've played him, he's been a dangerous player," Boudreau said. "I think we can try him with Getzlaf and Perry. We tried Dustin Penner there … I think this can work better."
Boudreau noted Heatley's numbers have been down since his 39-goal season with the San Jose Sharks in 2009-10. He had 12 goals with a minus-18 rating in 76 games with the Minnesota Wild last season, and it wasn't surprising Heatley lasted beyond the first wave of free agents signed.
But Anaheim general manager Bob Murray saw a potential fit, particularly on the Ducks' disappointing power play. The only downside is if Heatley underperforms and is seen as taking a spot that could otherwise be filled by the stable of young forwards at the Ducks' disposal such as Smith-Pelly or Emerson Etem.
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"I'm hoping Bob didn't go out and get Dany Heatley just to get someone," Boudreau said. "I'm sure he's excited and motivated."
Heatley sounded it when he spoke to reporters upon his signing. The two-time 50-goal scorer and longtime Ducks nemesis said he wants to prove his critics wrong and show he still has speed. Skating with Getzlaf, a reigning Hart Trophy finalist, and Perry, a former Hart winner, might help put that spring back.
"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 [Getzlaf]. 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 wants to do. But my job is to be ready to go and be ready to get a chance with those two guys."
Murray thinks Heatley's veteran presence will at least rub off on those younger players -- his left-handed shot on the left side doesn't hurt, either. Heatley reportedly was a fine example in Minnesota for players like Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle after Heatley's role got reduced.
"As an older player, sometimes you get pushed to the side a little bit to let the younger guys develop," Heatley said. "At the same time, I feel like I was a good guy to the young kids. I mentored them a little bit. I enjoyed my time there. I just want another chance to show I can still play."