Make it or Break it Seasons: Dany Heatley & Martin Havlat
Although both being prominent 20+ goal scorers once, Martin Havlat has seemingly fallen off the map while in California, where he played for 3 seasons in black and teal, as has Dany Heatley, in the great hockey state of Minnesota. Havlat was the big piece going to San Jose in July of 2011 in the trade which brought Dany Heatley to Minnesota, which quite frankly in the long run, meant just two large contracts switching teams. Both players, eager for a fresh start, never really found their grooves in their new homes, although the Sharks made it to the postseason 3 times with Martin Havlat, whereas the Wild only danced once with Dany Heatley on the roster. Almost 3 seasons later, both men hit unrestricted free agency, eager for a new start and a new team to play with, and new identities to create for themselves.
Havlat wasted little time during free agent frenzy, as he quickly found a new home in New Jersey. Havlat signed on July 1st with the Devils, where he will accompany fellow Czechs Patrick Elias, Jaromir Jagr, and Marek Zidlicky.
Havlat was a very disappointing addition for San Jose over his stint there. Last season, Havlat only played in 48 games, tallying 22 points. Despite being a +14, the stats just weren’t there. Havlat was supposed to be a solid, point producing top 6 guy and he just never reached his full potential. Making 5 million a year and having 22 points just doesn’t cut it in today’s game. Playoffs, were a whole other level of disaster for Havlat. In 8 total playoff games over 3 seasons, Havlat only mustered up 3 points, and had 8 PIMs. In the 2014 playoffs, Havlat had a CF% of 31.8, and the year before a 23.1 in the playoffs, pitiful even if in a small sample size.
However, things could be looking up for Havlat. The speedy forward still has some kick left in his game and a new scenario could help him out majorly. He signed for 1.5 million for one year, which will look great if he produces and won’t be a burden if he does not. Havlat also has players he is familiar with on the team, which could help him out chemistry wise. Havlat’ projected to get top-6 time to start as well. If healthy, which is another issue for him, Martin Havlat could really get back on track here again in New Jersey.
Dany Heatley is the second piece to the July 2011 trade that is looking for resurgence in the NHL. Heatley is just coming off a 7.5 million dollar contract, which he split with San Jose, Ottawa, and Minnesota. The all-star, which fans have grown accustomed to calling him due to his 50 goals in the 2006-2007 season, is coming off another bad year with Minnesota, despite a good playoffs. Heatley only notched 28 points last year, 12 of which were goals, in 78 games. He had a great playoffs as he normally does for some odd reason, with 6 points in 11 games. Heatley is 4 seasons removed from a 60 point year, and has had a slow decline over that time. After a good first year in Minnesota with 50 points, Heatley’s skating got worse and he didn’t score over 15 goals in his last two years there (include 36 GP lockout year).
Per say, Heatley was a 3 million dollar player, these stats wouldn’t be horrendous. But brought in to be a major contributor to the Wild, he never found hid mojo, which was bad for the team on and off the ice with his horrendous contract. The Wild let him go to free agency, where he patiently waited for 9 days before signing a contract with the Anaheim Ducks. The deal is one year worth 1 million which could easily become the best bargain in the league.
Theres little doubt Anaheim won’t make the playoffs, where Dany Heatley excels. Heatley could very well start on the first line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry if all goes well at camp, and with their skill sets, it could put Heatley back on the map for at least one season. Even if that doesn’t work out, Anaheim exhibits one of the best center cores in the league for Heatley to play with, which features Ryan Kesler on the second line. Let’s says Healtey in the top-6 doesn’t work out either, a one million dollar contract for a 25 point guy doesn’t hurt anyone, but under the right circumstances you could see Dany Heatley back scoring 25-30 or more goals this year.
There’s many reasons for these two men who crossed paths three summers ago to be excited. The 2014-2015 season could feature the re-vitalization of their careers, one’s that have gone missing for a while now. This year is the one and only hands they may get to truly set themselves up for the future and become relevant scorers again, and is truly a make it or break it year for Dany Healtey and Martin Havlat.
-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles @KMartinTNF