Yesterday I was taken aback to see that Dany Heatley had signed a one-year, one-million dollar contract with the Anaheim Ducks.
I mean, Dany Heatley, ONE MILLION DOLLARS?
That’s it, that’s all?
...Wait. Or...is that way too much?
Also...someone signed Dany Heatley at all? He’s done!
...But then again, it is Dany Heatley…
I was taken aback, but I didn’t really know why. Was this a terrible or great signing? Anytime you have to really consider that question, it’s probably somewhere in the middle.
Here’s where I’ve got it now:
If Heatley is still able to contribute in the NHL, he’s worth more than a million dollars. “Able to contribute” for a player with his goal-scoring past means around 15 goals, which generally costs more than a million bucks.
If Dany Heatley isn’t fast enough to get into position to score, if he can’t keep up enough to play with skill players, if he just can’t do it anymore, then he’s worth nothing.
By signing him to a one-year, one million dollar deal, the Ducks have said what the rest of us are saying: we have no idea. Got nothing. We have no damn clue if Heatley still has it or not. But, if he’s done you’re only out a tiny cap hit, and if he’s not you’re getting a bargain. So sure, why not. Sign him to a one-year, one million dollar deal and find out.
Below are the arguments for “Dany Heatley is done” and “Dany Heatley will outperform his contract,” then my best guess.
Dany Heatley is done
Oh my god, Dany Heatley is so obviously done it’s insane we even have to have this conversation. In the past three seasons his ice time has fallen from 20:30 a night, to 18:20, to 14:49, before playing just over 11 minutes a game in playoffs for Minnesota this past year. That’s under the same coach watching his ability plummet. He scored a whopping 12 goals and 28 total points in 76 regular season games despite getting the 4th most powerplay time among Wild forwards (over 2.5 minutes per game).
The Wild have 31 skaters on their NHL.com stats page. Each page holds 30 players. If you sort it by plus/minus, you have to go to page two to find Heatley and his -18, which is 11 goals against worse than the second worst skater on the team. If you think plus/minus is a bunk stat, well, his Corsi relative to his team was -5.9%, and he wasn’t exactly playing the toughest minutes. He was atrocious anyway you slice it.
He’s never been a fitness nut, he was never the most fleet of foot, and he’s officially lost it. He’s not going to do squat with the Ducks.
Dany Heatley will outperform his contract
Since the year 2000, six players have scored 50 goals twice: Ovechkin, Stamkos, Iginla, Kovalchuk, Jagr...and Dany Heatley. We’re really debating if a career elite scorer at 33 - not 43, people - is worth a one million dollar one year shot? Do you know who makes a million dollars in the NHL these days? Random dudes hauled out of the KHL like Petri Kontiola. Depth journeymen like Joe Vitale. Knuckle-chucking dusters like Patrick Bordeleau. Hell, two of those guys I just named earn more than a million. And we’re not sure about Heatley?
It was just 2010 when Dany Heatley was on Team Canada skating alongside a couple guys named Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf en route to winning a gold medal (how gigantic is that line, by the way?). If he gets the chance to skate with those guys again, which he likely will, you don’t think that bomb shot of his is going to find the back of the net 15-plus times? Of course it is.
Combine all this with the fact that this piddly contract is a wake-up call, and you’ve got a motivated Heatley working his tail off this summer to come into camp in shape and have a great season. And let’s be real anyway - he could’ve gotten more dollars elsewhere, he just took the comparably tiny contract so he could play for a Cup contender. That anyone thinks he’s not worth a million for a one year shot is flabbergasting.
Heatley is slower and generally worse than he’s ever been, but he’s also a guy with a unique skill set who can bury a few extra pucks your average player can’t.
The risk to the Ducks is pretty much nil. For a million dollars, if he’s not working out you can put him in the pressbox, or on waivers, or whatever. On the chance he comes in with some real serious intent to succeed and fits somewhere in your lineup, signing him for cheap was probably a no-brainer.
The Ducks are probably thinking what the rest of us are: we're not expecting much, but we know there's a fair chance this could pay off nicely. If he stays healthy all year, I’ll call him hitting 15 goals in a limited role.