The Star Tribune's Mike Russo joined KFAN's Paul Allen for another Penalty Box Show (which are becoming incredibly rough listening because PA is approaching a high level of obnoxiousness with each passing show) today, and you'll be shocked to know that there was some little nuggets to be gleaned from the two segment interview.
Of course scoring woes and power play ineptitude were covered, but a healthy discussion on the state of Dany Heatley's game also took place, and the argument of pedigree vs. potential production.
We all know that Dany Heatley isn't the player he used to be. His main stats show the decline, and for the fancy stats literate, his underlying stats would be exhibit B. And even to the untrained eye, he's simply been decimated by injuries; he's clearly lost a step (and a half) and one has to wonder if he just doesn't have the hands anymore.
Russo talked at length about how Mike Yeo stated that Jason Zucker, he of 10 power play goals in Houston, won't be on the power play units (despite being a shoot-first guy) because he has guys "with some pedigree", inferring Heatley- who is struggling and being shifted up and down the line chart. While its a debate for another day- whether or not Yeo has fully considered all of his in-game situational options and if he ever will- the reluctance to besmirch Heatley's equity as a goal scorer and star quality player may, in fact, be hampering the team.
He is due a healthy paycheck for this year and next, according to Capgeek- and while there is some healthy contracts coming off of the books; Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Niklas Backstrom, and Matt Cullen being the notables; the team stands at a projected 52.6 Million with the new Salary Cap number being 64.3 Million. The problem, is that that number is for 18 skaters- and my Prior Lake High School math tells me there are 12 restricted free agents to be qualified. Now, none of them are likely seeing a Brinks truck back up to their front door, but that group includes Cal Clutterbuck, Justin Falk, and Jared Spurgeon- three current roster players.
Cap flexibility is an asset- and with that sort of impending RFA crunch (and some holes that will need to be filled, like possibly an NHL-capable goaltender when Josh Harding's status is murky at best at the current juncture), 12 million may not be enough to provide the room to resign those and operate with some cap room. So, with that being said, wouldn't be it worth considering using the amnesty buyout on Heatley?
His game is declining, and his cap hit is huge; this team is going to look to continue the youth movement anyways, especially in situations where Heatley is playing (and faltering) currently. The best move we make this offseason could be cutting ties to someone whose best years are in the past.