Neither Dany Heatley nor Devin Setoguchi had any idea three weeks ago they'd be playing in Minnesota next season. But now that they're in the "State of Hockey," they're excited to be there.
The Wild recently acquired both players from San Jose in separate trades -- they landed Setoguchi at the Entry Draft in a deal that sent defenseman Brent Burns to the Sharks, then got Heatley, a two-time 50-goal scorer, in a one-for-one swap for Martin Havlat on July 3.
For Setoguchi, who had signed a three-year contract with the Sharks the night before the draft, the deal was a shock.
"No, not at all," Setoguchi told the media on Monday when asked if he had any inkling that he'd be traded. "I was just more excited that I signed the new contract. And then the next day you get shipped off. But that’s the way it is. That’s sports. You can never get too comfortable and things happen for a reason. They wanted me here and I want to be here. I want to be a big part to this team and help out. I’m excited to be here and get a fresh start."
It was the first time in Setoguchi's career that he's been dealt. Heatley, who managed only 26 goals while battling injuries this season, has a little more experience -- the Wild will be his fourth NHL team. But like his once and future teammate, he didn't see this one coming.
"I think you approach it the same," he said of his approach to being traded. "The way the trades have gone down has been different. This is the first one that I didn't know was coming, so that is different. But from the point of just a new team and new excitement, I think it's the same.
"This is Seto's first time (being traded). I've been traded a few times. There's kind of a sense of a fresh start. There's a bit of excitement. He's excited and so am I."
So are the Wild, who've struggled to score since their inception in 2000. The arrival of Heatley and Setoguchi, who had 22 goals this past season and has 73 in the last three, is a big boost for a team that missed the playoffs largely due to the inability to put the puck in the net.
"I've always been a goal-scorer. I've put up numbers," Heatley said. "I think that's what I'm expected to do here. I think Seto and I can bring that to this team."
As for his struggles last season -- his 26 goals and 64 points were his lowest totals since 2003-04?
"I think throughout a career, you have good years and bad years," he said. "Last year was a little bit of a down year for me, and I’ve got to work this summer and try to bring that back up."
At 24, Setoguchi is six years younger than Heatley -- and he's glad to have a friendly face joining him with his new team.
"I think it’s good that I get a chance to come here with Dany," he said. "I heard him just say before he had a little bit of a down year last year. I never heard of someone scoring 26 goals having a down year. That’s kind of hard to do. In his standards, he wants to score 50 every year. So it’s going to make the transition a lot easier coming here with him."
Setoguchi says his offensive game isn't complicated.
"You’re going to find that I’m just going to shoot the puck," he said. "That’s all that I try to do. I get the puck, I shoot it. I don’t hold onto it, I don’t make nice, really sweet plays with it. I just shoot it. I’m going to skate and shoot and hit, and that’s my plan."
GM Chuck Fletcher said he made the deals because he realized his team lacked the firepower needed to make the playoffs.
"I think everybody saw that last year, the last two years," he said of the team's lack of offense, "and whether you were a fan or a coach or up in the press box eating popcorn, I think clearly we didn’t score enough goals and we didn’t shoot the puck enough. There’s a direct correlation between shots on goal and goals scored, so we’re a team that’s going to put an emphasis on putting the pucks in the net, playing in the offensive zone and playing in traffic, getting to the net. Certainly both of those guys do things well in the offensive zone, and that’s why they’re here."
Both Heatley and Setoguchi are used to making the playoffs, and Heatley said getting his new team back to the postseason for the first time since 2008 is the No. 1 priority.
"It’s been three years since we’ve been there now, and that’s our goal, to get better every day and get back in the playoffs," he said. "I think the Western Conference is a very, very tough conference. It’s going to be tough games all year long, but I believe we can get in the playoffs and once we do, anything can happen once you get there."