Dany Heatley (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Two longtime NHLers are heading overseas for the 2015-16 campaign. It was announced Thursday that Dany Heatley has signed a deal with Germany’s Nuremberg Ice Tigers and that Martin Erat has inked a one-year contract with Avangard Omsk of the KHL.
Dany Heatley may have played his final game in the NHL.
It was announced Thursday morning that Heatley has signed a contract with the Nuremberg Ice Tigers of the German DEL. The contract will carry the 34-year-old through to the end of the DEL season, and Heatley is expected to be in the lineup as soon as Sunday when the Ice Tigers face the Hamburg Freezers. While he plays for Canada nationally, Heatley is German-born, so the DEL presents an opportunity for him to play in what is technically his home country.
"Dany Heatley is one of the largest commitments in the history of the DEL,” said Ice Tigers sports director Martin Jiranek. “We are very pleased and happy that he has chosen to play for the Ice Tigers in Nuremberg. We have been in contact with Dany for more than a month, he is friends with several players with us. He does not come for the money, he comes because he wants to play in Nuremberg.”
That Heatley has decided to head overseas is far from the most shocking news this off-season. His 2014-15 campaign was a difficult one that saw him spend the majority of the campaign in the AHL.
After signing a one-year deal with the Anaheim Ducks in the off-season, Heatley dealt with an early-season groin injury that put him on the shelf for nine games. Upon his return, he saw action in four of the next seven contests before he was put back on injured reserve with the groin injury. By December, he was ready to return to the lineup but only suited up twice more before the Ducks placed him on waivers and subsequently sent him to the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals.
Not even in the AHL could Heatley find his stride, however. Over 43 games in the AHL, which were split between Norfolk and San Antonio following a trade deadline deal, the two-time NHL 50-goal scorer mustered just eight goals and 20 points.
Heatley has had a precipitous fall from grace since his 50-goal days with the Ottawa Senators, but few could have expected he would wash out of the NHL entirely by his 35th birthday. While he was never the strongest skater in the NHL, his pinpoint accuracy and booming shot were two weapons that made him an offensive dynamo during the middle years of his career.
From 2005-06 to the end of the 2012-13 season, Heatley had tallied the third-most goals of any player in the NHL. His 280 markers tied him with Jarome Iginla and put him behind only Ilya Kovalchuk and Alex Ovechkin among the top goal-scorers. Over that span of 597 games, Heatley was a near point-per-game player, too, notching 582 points, good for 12th among all players over that eight-year span.
It seems unlikely — especially after his 2014-15 campaign — Heatley will ever return to the NHL.
ERAT HEADS TO KHL
It’s hard to believe the Washington Capitals trade of Filip Forsberg to the Nashville Predators could look any worse, but the player the Capitals got in return, Martin Erat, won’t even be in the NHL this season. It was announced that Erat has signed a one-year deal with the KHL's Avangard Omsk.
Erat, 34, is actually coming off of a decent season with the Arizona Coyotes. In 2014-15, he scored nine goals and 32 points while skating nearly 16 minutes per game. Erat’s speed turned him into a consistent 20-goal threat for the bulk of his career, but he hasn’t been able to crack 10 goals, let alone 20, since the 2009-10 season.
A native of the Czech Republic, this will be Erat’s first foray into the KHL. Before coming to North America, he played with Zlin of the Czech Extraliga and spent his 2004-05 lockout campaign with the club. Erat will join a number of former NHLers in Omsk, including Vladimir Sobotka, Sergei Shirokov and Alexander Perezhogin.
Omsk has already played 10 games this season and sit atop the Eastern Conference with a 7-0-3 record.