Yesterday’s signing of veteran winger Dany Heatley created a buzz among Ducks fans. As a new addition to an already deep forward group, there is a lot of curiosity as to who he lines up with this season.
The most obvious choice is with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Dany Heatley has tremendous size to complement the twins and can add a lot of beef to a line that can already be physically imposing to other opponents, especially on the forecheck. Heatley is a sniper, a perfect complement to the pass-happy Getzlaf, but Heatley also has the offensive acumen to set up his teammates with quality passes.
However, it might not be that easy. When Dustin Penner was signed to the Ducks last year on a one year deal, many expected him to be penciled into that top line slot. While Penner eventually did play regularly in the role he had before signing an offer sheet with the Edmonton Oilers, he had to earn his time on that role. A poor training camp resulted in Penner being a healthy scratch in the season opener against the Colorado Avalanche, and he had to play 4th line minutes for the next two games before eventually playing on the top line.
Just because Dany Heatley has experience playing with Getzlaf does not automatically give him the green light to be put on that line. Many of the Ducks’ young wingers, such as Patrick Maroon, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Matt Beleskey have all put in their work with the team, and the organization may have faith in them to shoulder the load on the top line, making Heatley a secondary option.
Bruce Boudreau always attempts to maximize the offensive output from every player he has. He does not shy away from playing his fourth line double digit minutes, and he also is not afraid to put his lines in a blender to find a combination that works.
Heatley has many options for partners. Playing with an elite centerman such as Getzlaf or Ryan Kesler will certainly aid his production, but it is not impossible to believe that Boudreau may put Heatley in a lesser role with Rickard Rakell or Nate Thompson. As a veteran, Heatley can also aid the development of younger wingers on the staff by playing with someone such as Kyle Palmieri or Jakob Silfverberg.
The ultimate goal in this Heatley signing is to add a player who can potentially be very productive in a top-six role. As long as the desirable production comes, who his linemates are will ultimately be a moot point. For the Ducks, it is about winning, and it is about winning now. No matter the role, the goal is for Dany Heatley to contribute to this team’s quest for a Stanley Cup.
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