The Minnesota Wild beat San Jose 3-1 on Sunday despite being outshot 38-13 and getting very little out of the Nino Niederreiter-Charlie Coyle-Dany Heatley line.
Following the game, head coach Mike Yeo took issue with how the group played, with special attention paid to Heatley.
“They had a few (good shifts), but not enough still,” Yeo said. “There were still a lot of turnovers.”
He praised second line center Charlie Coyle’s improved effort in the faceoff circle (7 for 12) and liked part of winger Nino Niederreiter’s game. The only one on the second line he didn’t praise was Dany Heatley.
Heatley recorded an assist, but turned the puck over a few times and didn’t play a complete game.
“I’m not going to disagree with you,” Yeo said.
Heatley again turned pucks over routinely to make life difficult on the Wild. One caused Coyle’s penalty and a golden chance by Logan Couture, another turnover led to an icing, then a Clayton Stoner penalty.
Yeo agreed that Heatley’s turnovers are becoming troublesome, but said, “I’m not going to sit here and point to Heater and say he was the reason. But at the same time, we have to look at everything with that line and figure out why.”
Heatley’s struggles this year are well documented — he has just six goals and 11 points in 32 games, averaging a career-low 15:22 TOI per night — but they’re exacerbated by his gaudy contract, which carries a $7.5 million cap hit (that, thankfully for the Wild, is set to expire at the end of this season.)
Now it sounds like Heatley could become one of the most expensive fourth-liners in hockey. He responded well earlier this season after getting dropped onto a line with Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell, and it sounds like he could be on his way back there.
“That’s something that we’ll talk about and look at for sure,” Yeo said about returning Heatley back to the fourth line.