One of the NHL’s more onerous contracts is set to expire this summer when Dany Heatley’s six-year, $45 million deal comes off the Wild’s books.
And to hear GM Chuck Fletcher explain it, the club isn’t exactly rushing to figure out a way to bring Heatley back.
“We’ll see at the end of the year,” Fletcher said, per the Minnesota Star-Tribune. “His contract is up, and we can just see what the fit is going to be and for us, the key thing is we have to look at our young players and where they’re all going to fit.”
Since Minnesota’s season is still going and Heatley is playing (albeit in a fourth-line role) it’s understandable why Fletcher’s trying to be as non-committal and optimistic as possible about a potential return. But let’s be real: barring a gigantic pay cut, Heatley — who’s never scored more than 26 goals for the Wild and was a healthy scratch at times this season — is done in Minnesota.
Whispers around the league suggest some, if not all, of the cap space freed from his contract will go to Thomas Vanek, the pending UFA rumored to be Minnesota’s No. 1 target. The Wild also need to decide what to do with trade deadline acquisition Matt Moulson, and reach a new deal with key RFAs Nino Neiderreiter.
Finances, plus Fletcher’s desire to give more young forwards a shot — the Wild still have ’11 first-rounder Zack Phillips in the mix — will basically squeeze Heatley out, though Fletcher is leaving the door open ever so slightly.
“We’ll sit down at the end of the year and talk to Dany,” he said, “and take a look and see how we end up here.”
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Looking back at 10 years of Alex Ovechkin with the Washington Capitals, in case the above video made you want more. (CSN Mid-Atlantic)
David Conte spent 10,000 days with Lou Lamoriello and lived to tell about it. (TSN)
Want to spot some contract year guys? Here are 32 pending restricted free agents. (Sportsnet)
NHL GMs are starting to sniff around with the 2015-16 season about to kick off. (Ottawa Sun)
Some backstory on Zack Kassian that was passed around on Twitter last evening. (Canucks website)
Hey, you can’t say Raffi Torres hasn’t literally paid for his ways:
This is some quality chirping between Jaromir Jagr and Matthew Barnaby:
Does the NHL have a cocaine problem?
TSN caught up with deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who provided some fascinating insight:
“The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up,” Daly said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense. What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again.”
Daly said that he’d be surprised “if we’re talking more than 20 guys” and then touched on something that may be a problem: they don’t test it in a “comprehensive way.”
As Katie Strang’s essential ESPN article about the Los Angeles Kings’ tough season explored in June, there are some challenges for testing for a drug like cocaine. That said, there are also some limitations that may raise some eyebrows.
For one, it metabolizes quickly. Michael McCabe, a Philadelphia-based toxicology expert who works for Robson Forensic, told ESPN.com that, generally speaking, cocaine filters out of the system in two to four days, making it relatively easy to avoid a flag in standard urine tests.
The NHL-NHLPA’s joint drug-testing program is not specifically designed to target recreational drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. The Performance Enhancing Substances Program is put into place to do exactly that — screen for performance-enhancing drugs.
So, are “party drugs” like cocaine and molly an issue for the NHL?
At the moment, the answer almost seems to be: “the league hopes not.”
Daly goes into plenty of detail on the issue, so read the full TSN article for more.