Wild deals again: Heatley for Havlat

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 4, 2011 - 7:04 AM

Minnesota and San Jose swapped players for the second time in nine days, with Heatley bringing 325 career goals to the Wild.

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In another Wild-San Jose Sharks blockbuster, General Manager Chuck Fletcher acquired much-maligned but potentially lethal goal scorer Dany Heatley (pictured) on Sunday night after Martin Havlat waived his no-move clause to head west.

Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez, Associated Press

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Nine days after the earthquake came the aftershock.

In another Wild-San Jose Sharks blockbuster, General Manager Chuck Fletcher acquired much-maligned but potentially lethal goal scorer Dany Heatley on Sunday night after Martin Havlat waived his no-move clause to head west.

The trade that jolted the NHL late in the evening came after the Wild acquired 24-year-old goal scorer Devin Setoguchi and two other pieces from the Sharks during the NHL draft June 24 for defenseman Brent Burns and a second-round pick.

"We are excited to add Dany Heatley, one of the top goal scorers in the NHL, to our team," Fletcher, who will be available during a Monday morning conference call, said in a news release. "He is a quality player who has averaged more than a point a game in his nine-year career."

Heatley, 30, long a controversial figure who two years ago asked out of Ottawa and before that Atlanta, has seen declining production since consecutive 50-goal seasons in 2005-06 and 2006-07 with the Senators.

But the former Rookie of the Year and four-time All-Star has the ability to be the type of gamebreaker the Wild has been missing since the departure of Marian Gaborik in 2009.

Heatley, the second overall pick by Atlanta in the 2000 draft and a former Wisconsin Badger, is a power-play dynamo and has a tremendous shot from between the circles and a scorching one-timer.

Since the 6-4, 220-pound right winger entered the league in 2001, Heatley ranks first among all players in power-play goals (128) and game-winning goals (58), third in goals (325) and fifth in points (689). He's done this in 669 games (1.03 points per game, .49 goals per game).

"When he called me ... I leaped 9 feet in the air. He's one guy I probably hung out with most on the [Sharks]," Setoguchi said. "This has got to be an exciting night for the state of Minnesota and exciting night for our organization. We're getting one of the best, premier goal scorers in the entire NHL. He is so good, I'm telling you."

Since Heatley, who will address the media Monday, is one of the best "finishers" in the NHL, one assumes he'll play with playmaker Pierre-Marc Bouchard on the left wing and center Mikko Koivu. Although Setoguchi said he'd love to play wing with Heatley because of their chemistry from San Jose.

"We are very excited to have Dany join the Wild," owner Craig Leipold said in an e-mail. "I think our fans will like this move. I believe we have two legitimate scoring lines now and think we have added some excitement to our team. I know Chuck and his staff have been busy this offseason to make our team better, and I like the results."

Heatley has been criticized for his playoff performances (15 goals and 57 points in 66 games) and conditioning. After scoring 219 goals the past five seasons, Heatley scored 26 goals and 64 points in 80 games last season for the Sharks.

"He's a good man and he loves to play the game," Sharks GM Doug Wilson said. "He went and won a gold medal at the Olympic Games in Vancouver representing the San Jose Sharks. He worked his butt off. This is a guy that played with a broken hand for a month and a half [last season] and never said a word about it.

"I respect Dany Heatley tremendously, and this is just a different need for our team at this time."

As part of his original deal with Ottawa, Heatley had a modified no-trade clause where he could supply 10 teams annually by July 1 to which he would not accept a trade. Minnesota wasn't on that list.

Havlat, 30, Fletcher's first big free-agent addition when he came on board in 2009, scored 40 goals and 116 points in two seasons with the Wild.

Wilson said he realized after the Burns deal that he needed to replace Setoguchi's speed. Havlat offers that speed replacement, and Wilson called him a big-game player.

But Havlat never seemed completely happy in Minnesota, rarely seeing eye to eye with former coach Todd Richards.

"For a hockey player, not just for me but everybody else, if your season ends April 10, it's an empty feeling," Havlat said on a conference call. "When the real season starts, you are already sitting at home watching the best hockey on TV.

"I had the chance to play the last five years only once. The five years before that in Ottawa I played every year. I enjoyed very much playing in the playoffs, and that's why I'm playing hockey."

Heatley had three years left on his deal with a $7.5 million salary-cap hit, with declining salaries of $8 million, $6 million and $5 million. Havlat has four more years left at $5 million annually.

Fletcher has talked often lately about the youth movement and filling holes from within. Leipold said acquiring Heatley would not affect any of the youngsters the Wild plans to give opportunities to in the fall.

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