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Elite goal-scoring ability at heart of Heatley deal

Monday, 07.04.2011 / 3:31 PM / NHL Insider

By Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

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Elite goal-scoring ability at heart of Heatley deal
For Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher, the idea for trading for Dany Heatley Sunday night was a simple one.
For Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher, the idea for trading for Dany Heatley Sunday night was a simple one.

"For us to compete and do a better job next year we felt we needed to score more goals," said Fletcher in a Monday afternoon conference call. "Certainly this trade, acquiring certainly one of the better goal scorers in the NHL today in Dany Heatley on the heels of acquiring Devin Setoguchi at the Draft, we feel we've added some goal scorers, some players that shoot the puck, and hopefully will mesh well with some of the other players that we have on our roster."

Few score more effectively than Heatley.

He scored just 26 goals this past season, but  ranks first in the NHL in power-play goals (128) and game-winning goals (58), third in goals (325) and fifth in points (689) since he entered the League in 2001.

Minnesota scored just 206 goals last season, the fifth-lowest total in the League.

The fact that the deal cost him a player – Marty Havlat, who went to San Jose in the deal -- in the same stratosphere as Heatley was just the price of doing business in the mind of Fletcher.

"We didn't trade any draft picks or young players to acquire Dany. We traded a 30-year-old skilled offensive winger for a 30-year-old skilled offensive winger," Fletcher said. "So, whether we made a trade or not we would've had a 30-year-old skilled offensive winger on our team. To me, it doesn't deviate at all [from the youth movement]."

And Heatley, traded for the third time in his career, is excited to be the perceived go-to offensive guy in Minnesota, a place he knows well after playing for nearby University of Wisconsin during his college career and making several trips to play the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

"I think as a goal scorer and a player, you want to be that guy," Heatley said Sunday. "I'm excited to be in Minny; I've got a lot of ties to Minny. I obviously went to school in Madison and have a lot of friends in Minny. I'm excited to be that guy, for sure."

Despite going from a team that was a favorite to make it to the Stanley Cup Final throughout his time in San Jose to a rebuilding team that finished 19 points behind the Sharks and once again out of the playoffs, Heatley says he believes in the team's youth movement and the opportunity to play with some talented players.

Top-line center Mikko Koivu is high atop that list of players, as is Pierre-Marc Bouchard, according to Heatley.

One or both could be on Heatley's line this fall.

"I'm going to go wherever they put me, but I think Mikko's one of the top centermen in the game today," Heatley said. "He's had some great years the last few years and I'm excited to get a chance to play with him. Pierre-Marc Bouchard is a great player. Obviously, he had some injury trouble last year but a really, really good player and if that was the case I'd be happy."

The Wild may have another move or two to make this summer, but it is unlikely any of them will rival the two blockbusters made in the past month. Last week, Fletcher obtained young scoring forward Setoguchi and a top prospect in Charlie Coyle from San Jose for All-Star defenseman Brent Burns.

"Our plan was to aggressively add as many young assets as we could and to find a way to improve the offensive capabilities of our club going into next season," Fletcher said. "We've put a lot of time and effort into this; we've spent the last three months working very hard on lots of different things, from finding a head coach to looking at our entire and development system, to preparing for the draft, to speaking to many teams and many agents about many scenarios.

"We're happy with the moves we've made and we've given up some quality assets to acquire what we have, but we feel we're a better organization both short-term and long-term today than where we were prior to this offseason."

And, despite the shock of the trade -- which Heatley says he did not see coming -- Heatley also professes optimism about the upcoming season.

"Obviously, it's a great organization, great fans. As a player, that's all you can ask for. To play in front of a packed building every night and have fans that love the team. I'm excited about that."



Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres