The NHL waiver wire has been overloaded since the end of the Christmas roster freeze yesterday. Derek Roy was placed on waivers by the Predators yesterday (he has cleared and is headed to Milwaukee) and Matt Fraser of the Boston Bruins was waived as well (he has since been claimed by the Oilers). Today, even more waiver chaos.
The Anaheim Ducks have placed aging forward Dany Heatley on waivers. The move is surprising, but not unexpected. Heatley has battled a groin injury all season, and has played in just six games with the Ducks so far, registering no points and a -3 +/- line.
While Heatley is 33-years-old, he used to have some phenomenal scoring ability. He put up back-to-back 50 goal seasons in Ottawa following the 2004 lockout. Since then, his production has steadily declined. Last season with Minnesota, he only notched 28 points in 76 games.
Teams now will have the chance to claim the former elite scorer. Heatley could be a good option to help out the Predators (not that they desperately need it). So, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of Nashville claiming him.
Pro: Depth on Depth on Depth
What’s better than scoring depth? Why, even more scoring depth! The Predators have been very good at finding scoring from all four lines this season. One night, it’s the top line lighting the lamp. The next night, the fourth line goes on a tear. Heatley would only add to this mix. He may not have the scoring touch he used to have, but barring another injury, he could rotate through the second, third, and fourth lines.
Con: The Injury Bug
Heatley has only played in six games this season. That’s just one more than Viktor Stalberg has played for Nashville. He was placed on Injured Reserve back in November, and only recently started practicing again. Heatley saw the ice again on December 19th vs. Ottawa and December 27th vs. Arizona (both losses). While this is the first time in his whole career that he has missed extended time like this, it is still very concerning. What if he aggravates his injury again? Or, what if he suffers a new injury? He will become a waste of a roster spot and a blemish on general manager David Poile’s record this year.
Pro: Cheap Contract
Heatley’s contract is just one-year, $1 million, similar to the contracts of Roy, Mike Ribeiro, and Olli Jokinen for Nashville. The Predators have a lot of cap space, and Heatley would not be a burden on the team. He probably would not see the ice night after night, as the Predators try to rotate forwards like Gabriel Bourque, Paul Gaustad, Roy, and Stalberg. He’s a low-risk, high-potential pickup. If he produces, good for him. If he’s awful, he walks away this summer, no-harm, no-foul.
Con: Where Are The Numbers?
While Heatley has only played six games, he hasn’t notched a single point. Expectations are very low for the aging winger. Nobody knows how he is playing at this age because he hasn’t been playing. The move would have little risk from the management perspective, but is incredibly risky on the ice. When it comes to on-ice performance, claiming Heatley would be like venturing into a jungle without a map. It could be fun, and maybe you find some neat animals and beautiful foliage. Or, you could get mauled by a jaguar and a vulture would devour your remains. Either one could happen, and you have to be prepared for both.
Pro: Friends on the Team
During his time in Ottawa, Heatley played with current Predators center Mike Fisher. Should the Predators claim him, he wouldn’t be walking into an unknown situation with no guidance. He would have his old friend Fisher to help him adjust to life in Nashville. This would make the move easier on Heatley, and let him focus more on his on-ice work. Rapidly changing cities can be tough on anyone, and having a friend and guide there to help is always nice.
Con: Is There a Better Move to be Made?
There are plenty of other forwards out there that could be acquired. For example, the Blues have placed forward Magnus Paajarvi on waivers as well. Could the Predators make a move for him? There are also a number of big-time trade options out there. Reports indicate that Taylor Hall is on the trading block in Edmonton, and Mike Richards could be on his way out of Los Angeles. Does David Poile forego the small-scale moves and go for the home run?
Tell us what you think, Preds fans: