ANAHEIM -- Dany Heatley is 33 years old with an impressive scoring resume, but he knows he might not get many more opportunities like this. His numbers are on the decline and his legs aren't what they used to be.
Sometimes it just takes the right fit to reboot a career, though, and the Anaheim Ducks might be that match for Heatley, who signed a one-year, $1 million contract Wednesday. It came eight days after NHL free agency began, and the left wing said his agent talked to Anaheim general manager Bob Murray during that time.
Left Wing - ANA
GOALS: 12 | ASST: 16 | PTS: 28
SOG: 110 | +/-: -18
Heatley is coming off 12 goals and 16 assists in 76 games with the Minnesota Wild, who scratched him late in the season, a sign the three-year relationship was ending. He sounded eager for a restart.
"I feel like was kind of in a tough spot in Minnesota," Heatley said. "I feel I've got a lot to prove and a lot to give. I want to prove a lot of people wrong, and I'm very happy Anaheim has given me that chance.
"I feel leaner. I know the knock on me is that I'm not quick enough anymore. I disagree with that. I can still play this game. I'm still quick enough, fast enough, and I can score goals. As far as Minnesota, they had a lot of great young players. As an older player, sometimes you get pushed to the side a little bit to let the younger guys develop. At the same time, I feel like I was a good guy to the young kids. I mentored them a little bit. I enjoyed my time there. I just want another chance to show I can still play."
Murray acknowledged that Heatley has struggled (49 points, minus-30 the past two seasons), but the opportunity presented itself for the sides in a low-risk contract. Anaheim's power play ranked 22nd in the NHL at 16 percent last season, low considering its offensive personnel, and could use depth on the left side. Its other left-handed wings are Matt Beleskey, Patrick Maroon and Emerson Etem, though Andrew Cogliano, Jakob Silfverberg and Kyle Palmieri played the left side at some point last season.
"I think he's a very proud athlete and it hasn't gone quite right for whatever reason, and I think he knows [eventually] the end is coming," Murray said. "I think he's very motivated at this point. Our power play wasn't very good this year, and he could help our power play."
Murray was aware it didn't work out in the end for Heatley with Minnesota, but he reportedly was a good mentor for the Wild's younger players, and the Ducks are well-stocked with offensive prospects.
"Our research tells us that he was a guy of his stature, when things didn't go well, he was non-disruptive," Murray said. "He accepted his role."
Heatley has 372 goals in 863 NHL games. He has scored at least 39 goals in a season six times, notably 50-goal seasons in 2005-06 and 2006-07. Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau is known for trying seemingly every line combination, so it's likely Heatley will play with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry at some point.
"My job is to get in shape and be ready to play with those guys," Heatley said.
Heatley had praise for Getzlaf, a Canada teammate at World Championships and the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
"I love playing with the guy," Heatley said. "He's one of the best players in the League, as is Corey Perry. We'll see what Bruce wants to do, but my job is to get ready."
Heatley, with the Ottawa Senators, lost to Getzlaf, Perry and the Ducks in the 2007 Stanley Cup Final. He said Wednesday that was a long time ago and the Ducks have changed too much for him to find irony in coming to Anaheim.
"There's no doubt I'll never forget that series, but at the same time it's water under the bridge," he said.
Murray said it doesn't look like Beleskey will need abdominal surgery, but the GM sounded cautious. Beleskey tore his abdominal muscle against the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"We think he's fine," Murray said.