In the opinion of his former college coach, new Wild forward Dany Heatley is the potential superstar Minnesota fans have longed for since Marian Gaborik hit the highway three years ago.
Heatley, in the words of former University of Wisconsin coach and St. Paul native Jeff Sauer, delivers precisely what the Wild need: instant offense.
"He's a great goal- scorer," Sauer said. "He's got the disease."
The much-traveled Heatley, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2000 draft, is joining his fourth NHL team in 10 seasons and has in the past occasionally come under fire as a headache, especially after he requested a trade from the Ottawa Senators in 2009.
"Dany's a quality person," Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said, "and someone we think will fit well into our room."
Fletcher said he did his homework before shipping Martin Havlat to the San Jose Sharks on Sunday for Heatley, who has 325 goals and 364 assists for 689 points in 669 NHL games for the Atlanta Thrashers, the Senators and the Sharks. Heatley, he noted, should solve a glaring weakness the Wild have shown over the past two seasons, when they ranked at or near the bottom in goals.
Asked if he were concerned Heatley might bring a selfish attitude to the team's dressing room, Fletcher just said no.
"I think he's the opposite, in fact. I think he's a quality person that's played on good hockey teams a lot and had a lot of success, both from a team standpoint and an individual standpoint, over his career," Fletcher said.
Rookie Wild coach Mike Yeo said he does not know Heatley personally, but when the possibility of a trade came up, he worked the phones.
"I'm hearing some great things about what kind of person he is," Yeo said Monday. "I don't know what the perception is, but all I can say, from former teammates and people that have coached him - I've heard a lot of good things since yesterday."
In Dany Heatley, Wild believe they've found their next big thing since Marian Gaborik
St. Paul Pioneer Press | Jul 5