Dany Heatley, Bad Luck, and the "Eyeball Test"

By Bob Spencer
Marilyn Indahl-US PRESSWIRE

I am at the very end of a stats project that required me to go back and watch every game of the Minnesota Wild 2010-11 season again to track zone entries (you can read up on that project here, but I will be posting a bit about it here on Rant as well.)

While watching the games, I couldn’t help but notice that Dany Heatley just seemed to have a fair bit of bad luck last season. There are ways of measuring luck statistically, and his numbers weren’t terrible in that category, but I am not talking about that kind of luck. It just seemed to me that he had a lot of pucks bounce off his stick funny, or he was in the right place at the right time but didn’t get a good pass in time, stuff like that.

Hopefully it’s not a case of confirmation bias (when I started to notice them, they stood out more to me, making them seem more prevalent than the actually were) but it just felt to me like a lot of things were just slightly out of whack for Heatley, and hopefully things could turn around this year.

There is no question his numbers have dropped off in recent years, but his skill set seems to be mostly in place–he may have lost a step but he is still a strong skater, and he still has the rocket slap shot that he unleashes whenever he gets the opportunity. He has a strong hockey sense and knows where to be on the ice, and he still has the competitive drive.

With the addition of Zach Parise and the emergence of Mikael Granlund, opposing coaches won’t be able to key in on Heater as much, so there is a chance he could get back to his scoring ways in 2012-13. But his contract is up in two years and he is now on the wrong side of 30 so the window is closing fast for a player who was once at the top of the league. If he has anything left in the tank, he needs to show it before that window slams shut.

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