The Minnesota Wild enter the 2013-14 in a somewhat interesting position. They’re not quite Stanley Cup contenders at this point, at least on paper, but at the same time, they’re not exactly bottom feeders in the Western Conference. They’re planted right in the middle.
It’s been pretty clear that the Wild have become intent on making massive improvements to their roster. They’ve spent like no other team in hockey over the last couple of summers, and continue to be a team to watch heading into next summer, when there are multiple names on the free agent market that will catch the attention of almost every club in the league.
Regardless of that situation, the focus is on the team now, and one player that should garner some attention as the season wears on is Dany Heatley. Heading into his final year of his contract with the Wild, Heatley may not be back with Minnesota next season, but he’s still playing for a contract somewhere.
Heatley is coming off of a couple of miserable seasons. Last season was derailed by injury, and he missed the last several weeks because of a shoulder injury. Even before that, though, he wasn’t entirely effective, and had even spent his fair share of time in Minnesota’s bottom six group of forwards.
Which begs the question as to whether or not we should expect improvement from Heatley, or if his age really is showing, and his game is fizzling out before our very eyes. One has to think that a player of Heatley’s caliber, once considered one of the greatest hockey players on the planet, still has plenty of game left.
That’s exactly the expectation that the Wild should be carrying into 2013-14 for Heatley. Nobody is expecting him to challenge the century mark for points this year. However, it’d be unreasonable to expect anything less than a 50 or 60 point campaign from him.
Heatley is a source of secondary offense for the Wild. He’s still capable of putting 20 or so pucks in the net this year. If Mikael Granlund comes along as expected, he’ll have an excellent playmaker in the middle. Heatley isn’t the player he once was, but he’s not as useless as some have begun to describe him after a couple of rough seasons.