When the Pittsburgh Penguins signed Danton Heinen to a one-year, $1.1 million contract, it was practically swept under the rug. After all, they already signed the likes of Brock McGinn and Zach Aston-Reese. Who else could they really sign? Well, the answer was apparently Heinen. However, with the injuries still plaguing Pittsburgh, he’s going to be one to keep an eye on. Who knows, he could break out with his new organization.
Heinen was drafted 116th overall in the 2014 NHL entry draft by the Boston Bruins. In his draft year, he played in the British Columbia Hockey League, or BCHL, with the Surrey Eagles. Heinen put up a respectable stat line of 29 goals and 62 points in a total of 57 games. With these numbers, it’s no surprise he was drafted.
After being taken by the Bruins, he spent the next season in the NCAA with the University of Denver. In his sophomore season, he was called up by Boston’s AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins for two playoff games. After that, Heinen split some time between the NHL and the AHL before becoming a regular in the Bruins lineup during the 2017-2018 season. What’s most astonishing is that he put up 47 points in 77 games during his rookie season with the Bruins.
Despite consistently putting up solid numbers, it was a shock when he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for Nick Ritchie. With the Ducks, his numbers tanked with only 14 points in 43 games. After this subpar performance, Anaheim opted not to re-sign him. That’s when the Penguins swooped in and took a chance on the 26-year-old forward.
Does He Fit In With The Penguins?
Under normal circumstances, Heinen would really only be playing on the third or fourth line. However, the Penguins are not facing normal circumstances. They’re going into the season without their two star forwards at the helm. Captain Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will still be recovering from their injuries, and will be entirely unavailable to play.
This means that some of the new guys will be given more chances. Of course, the more tenured players like Teddy Blueger and Jeff Carter will have more responsibilities, but they can’t do it themselves. General manager Ron Hextall already said some of the new players will have to step up, mostly in reference to Brian Boyle, Radim Zohorna and Evan Rodrigues. On the other hand, Heinen could end up being a steal for the Penguins.
Heinen has proved his offensive capabilities. With Boston as a rookie, he put up very respectable numbers. In his second season, while they weren’t quite as good, they were still something to behold. With a new change of scenery, he could regain some confidence he lost with Anaheim. Putting him at the wing of, say, Carter could snap him out of his slump.
Although Heinen’s signing wasn’t anything to write home about, it also shouldn’t be completely disregarded. He has proved multiple times he has the ability to provide on the offensive front as well as contribute in the defensive zone. With a new team and new teammates, he could truly breakout with the Penguins and prove to be a great signing.
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