With zero goals, one assist, a minus-1 rating and just 12 shots through seven games this season, it’s clear Dany Heatley is struggling to make an impact with the Wild.
Just ask his head coach.
“I’m not going to say he’s at his best right now,” Mike Yeo told the Minnesota Star-Tribune following Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to Toronto. “But I also know that he’s capable of more, and I also know that we need him right now.
“It’s easy to say, ‘Let’s just take him out,’ but with who? Who do you put in instead?”
Considered to be a prime compliance buyout candidate this summer, Heatley was “saved” by the fact he was nursing a shoulder injury.
Injured players were ineligible to be bought out, meaning Minnesota had to retain Heatley and his $7.5 million cap hit — the highest on the team — for one more year.
If there’s a bright side, it’s that Heatley’s deal is up at the end of the year…but that’s small reward for a Minnesota team looking to improve upon last season’s eighth-place finish in the Western Conference. The Wild want results now.
That said, GM Chuck Fletcher is trying to preach patience with the situation.
“I think it’s too early for anything, whether you’re winning or losing, you have to give it a lot more than six games on any player,” Fletcher said. “There’s a tendency in every sport to overreact on any little positive or negative early in the season.
“It’s human nature, I get it. But there’s 76 games to go.”