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.”