Dany Heatley has struggled since arriving in Minnesota from San Jose.
He has often been put on the fourth line or scratched this season and both of those things happened to him in the playoffs. Wild coach made Heatley a healthy scratch in Games 1 and 2 and found himself on the fourth line when he returned to action in Game 3.
“You kind of knew that if you get scratched and the team goes on a good run it’s going to be tough to get back in. I kind of took it as a positive, to get some rest. You’ve got to give Darby and Bruno a lot of credit. They really helped me, skating, working on different stuff that you don’t get to do if you’re in the lineup.”
Heatley is an unrestricted free agent after this season and while he’s not going to see the same kind of payday he had on this contract (Six years, $45 million), he’s playing for a new contract elsewhere. Taking advantage of his minutes the way he did in Game 7 would go a long way to helping himself.
If there was an upside to Chicago’s disappointing season it’s that they could score goals plenty. They finished sixth in the league in goals for and had five players score 20 or more with a sixth player (Dave Bolland) end the year with 19. Patrick Sharp topped the team with 33 and survived a season that saw captain Jonathan Toews miss 23 games with injury. While Patrick Kane went through the motions, Marian Hossa had a huge year up until Raffi Torres took his head off in the playoffs.
Chicago’s main problems came in goal, however, thanks to a season filled with regression for starter Corey Crawford. His goals against average jumped by almost half a goal and his save percentage fell off 14 points compared to last season. Ray Emery was perfectly mediocre as his backup. While both guys saw spurts where they looked like they’d seize control of the starting job, they both turned out to be just average.
The Blackhawks bring back virtually the same team as last year. A fully healthy Toews and a more focused Kane can help pick up the offense even more. If Hossa can return to full speed after his massive concussion in the playoffs would be huge. Chicago still hasn’t figured out what to do about a No. 2 center, however. Even the Capitals found a way to address that issue finally.
On defense, things are strong as ever. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are studs while Nick Leddy brings hope he can become their permanent second pairing fixture. Chicago could use a bounce back season from Niklas Hjalmarsson, however, as the remainder of the blue line corps shapes up to be a slew of third-pairing guys. Maybe rookie Dylan Olsen can rise to the challenge.
Goal remains a major question mark with both Crawford and Emery returning. No wonder why the Blackhawks have been sniffing around at Roberto Luongo’s availability. The thought of him donning the black and red has been haunting Hawks fans all summer. On the upside, the rest of the Central Division saw big losses and have lots of questions. Staying pat might’ve been GM Stan Bowman’s best move.
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“Norm has proven to be a valuable asset to our hockey operations over the past five years, so we are excited to be able to elevate him to this role,” Bowman said in a statement posted on the team website. “He has an excellent handle on the players within our organization, from recent draft picks to veterans, and a great eye for talent evaluating.”
A journeyman NHL blueliner (stops in New York, Hartford, Edmonton, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg and Phoenix), Maciver promises to have his hands full this summer.
The draft is just over a month away and the ‘Hawks have a number of free agent decisions to make. A number of veteran UFAs — Andrew Brunette, Brendan Morrison, Jamal Mayers, Sean O’Donnell, Sami Lepisto and Johnny Oduya — could be retained on the cheap or be jettisoned in favor of younger players on entry-level deals.