The Ducks reached into the free-agent pool Wednesday and acquired much-traveled winger Dany Heatley, attempting to add some experience after losing Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu.
Selanne retired after this past season and the Ducks parted ways with Koivu.
Heatley, 33, represents a low-cost gamble — a bargain-basement one-year contract worth $1 million. A two-time 50-goal scorer — both times with the Ottawa Senators — Heatley is a reclamation project in the truest sense of the term. As recently as 2010, he played for the Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team that won the gold medal in Vancouver.
“He’s a guy, over the years, I’ve always liked,” Ducks General Manager Bob Murray said. “He’s been intriguing because he is a pure goal-scorer. He’s much better away from the puck than people think he is.
“He’s struggled the last couple of years for different reasons. A great opportunity presented itself. We’re a good match for each other at this moment.… I think he’s a very proud athlete. It hasn’t gone quite right and I think he knows that somewhere down the line the end is coming. And I don’t think he wants it to end like this.”
Another factor was the Ducks’ underachieving power play, which was ranked 22nd this past season.
“He’s very motivated at this point and our power play wasn’t very bloody good last year and he’s very good on the power play,” Murray said.
Heatley fell out of favor in San Jose and was traded in the summer of 2011 to the Minnesota Wild for Martin Havlat, an exchange that essentially benefited neither team.
At times this past season, Heatley was a healthy scratch for Minnesota Wild Coach Mike Yeo. It was the first time in his career Heatley has been a healthy scratch. He had 12 goals and 28 points in 76 games.
“As far as what I have left in the tank, I feel I have lots,” Heatley said on a conference call. “I feel like I was kind of in a tough spot in Minnesota. I feel I’ve got a lot to prove, a lot to give, and want to prove a lot of people wrong. I’m very happy that Anaheim has given me that chance.”
The Ducks might give Heatley an opportunity to play on the No. 1 line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. He’s a left-handed shot and, at 6 feet 4 and 220 pounds, has the size that the Ducks prize.
In recent years, his lack of speed has been his primary shortcoming. Theoretically, he could be a good complement for Perry and Getzlaf because he is still an effective sniper from the faceoff dots in. Another possibility is playing on a line with recently acquired center Ryan Kesler.
Heatley has reached the Stanley Cup Final once in his career, coincidentally against the Ducks in 2007 when he was in Ottawa. That year, he was the postseason leader in assists (15) and points (22).
“I feel good,” Heatley said. “I feel leaner. I know the knock on me is that I’m not quick enough anymore. I disagree with that. I can still play this game. I’m still quick enough, fast enough, and I can score goals.
“As far as Minnesota, I think they had a lot of great young players. As an older player, sometimes you get pushed to the side a little bit to let the younger guys develop. But at the same time, I feel like I was a good guy to the young kids. I mentored them a little bit. I enjoyed my time there. I just want another chance to show I can play and I think I still can play.”