Dany Heatley’s days as an NHL sniper may be far behind him, but the 35-year-old winger had a successful season with the DEL’s Nuremberg Ice Tigers in 2015-16 and it appears he’s turning that into another deal in Europe.
According to Finnish website Jatkoaika, Heatley is in discussions to sign a deal to play for the Lahti Pelicans of Finland’s Liiga next season. No terms of the potential deal have been released, but signing a contract to move over to Finland for the 2016-17 campaign would mean a step up in level of competition for the coming season.
The connection that has reportedly made a deal with Pelicans a possibility is that Heatley’s former teammate from his days with the Atlanta Thrashers, Pasi Nurminen, is an assistant coach and owner of the club.
Over the course of 46 games with the DEL’s Ice Tigers, Heatley scored 17 goals and 32 points and added another two goals and five points in 12 post-season games. He finished outside the top 50 in league scoring and finished fifth in scoring for Nuremberg. The transition to Finland could realistically see Heatley produce fewer than 30 points, though.
This past season, only 53 players eclipsed the 30-point plateau over the course of the 60-game Liiga campaign and Finland’s top league is often considered one of top-tier leagues overseas, behind only the KHL, SHL and Swiss NLA.
If it didn’t already seem incredibly unlikely that Heatley would ever return to the NHL, another season in the European leagues likely all but closes the door on him ever returning to play in North America. At this point, even a one-year deal in the Liiga would mean Heatley is 36 by the time he would potentially come back to the NHL next off-season, and that would only come if he were to blow everyone away in Liiga.
Heatley last played an NHL game in December 2014 with the Anaheim Ducks. Repeated groin injuries impacted his skating ability, and by the end of the 2014-15 campaign, Heatley was playing with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, who were affiliated with the Florida Panthers at the time. He managed only eight goals and 20 points over 43 AHL contests in 2014-15. A second-overall pick of the Thrashers in 2000, Heatley has 372 goals and 791 points in 869 career NHL games.