The Minnesota Wild are currently preparing for a run at the Stanley Cup but will now have to make a major adjustment as star right winger Dany Heatley will miss the rest of the season including the playoffs. Heatley was hurt in a scuffle last Wednesday against the San Jose Sharks and went in for surgery on his left shoulder Tuesday.
Dr. Tony Miniaci of the Cleveland Clinic performed the surgery on Heatley, who is expected to be fully recovered by next season. In 36 games this year, Heatley has 21 points on 11 goals and 10 assists.
The 32-year-old was moved from the first- to third-line early in the season but has been very productive for the Wild. Heatley is third on the team in goals and will be greatly missed with the playoffs approaching and the Wild still battling for a spot.
The Wild’s trade with the Buffalo Sabres for Jason Pominville may turn out to be much more important now that Heatley is out for the rest of the year. With the addition of Pominville, the Wild can now give prospect Mikael Granlund more time on the ice after calling him up last Thursday.
The Wild have a three-point lead over the Detroit Red Wings for seventh in the Western Conference. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars have also closed the gap, as both teams trail the Wild by five points and are closing in on the Red Wings for eighth place and the final playoff spot.
Minnesota is coming off a 1-0 shutout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday and have lost four of their first five games in April. The Wild face off with the St. Louis Blues on Thursday in hopes of regaining momentum.
If the Wild hope to hold on to one of the final playoff spots in the West, they will have to pick up the pace over the final two weeks. With nine games remaining for the Wild, six are against teams with a winning record.
The loss of Heatley is a major setback, but the Wild still have the upper hand in the playoff race. Can the Wild hold on and clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 2007-08 without right winger Dany Heatley?