Dany Heatley #15 of the Minnesota Wild takes a shot as he warms up prior to facing the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on February 2, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.
(February 1, 2012 - Source: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America)

‘We’ll see’ about Heatley’s future in Minnesota, says GM


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.”

Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

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So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.

Latest report leaves Carey Price’s injury timeline fuzzy

Carey Price
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There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.

So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.

Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.

(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)

Lightning lament life as a .500 team

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to rise above mediocrity, yet it still must be deserving to finish at .500 for two straight months.

After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, that’s exactly where they find themselves:

Record at the end of October: 5-5-2

Record at the end of November: 11-11-3

As of this writing, the Lightning found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It all stands as a pretty tough thing for the reigning Eastern Conference champs to swallow.

The uncomfortable-yet-vital question is: can the Lightning break out of this funk?

Looking at their schedule, it won’t be easy, at least not right away.

They crawl through California during a three-game road trip to start December, and they also face six of eight on the road from Dec. 2 – 18.

The Lightning soak up home dates to finish 2015 after that, but what damage will be done by then?

Frankly, the Bolts will need to dig deep to break this pattern. If nothing else, they’ve fought with their backs against the wall before.

Dubinsky won’t change, and he won’t go easy on Crosby


Sometimes a suspension will shame a player, or at least inspire him to change the way he plays.

That apparently won’t happen regarding Brandon Dubinsky‘s one-game timeout session for cross-checking Sidney Crosby.

Dubinsky told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch that he won’t alter his style, whether it’s against Crosby or someone else.

“Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”

In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.

One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his “stick rode up” on his adversary.

Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?

Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).