"Over the years, he's been a guy I've always liked," said Anaheim General Manager Bob Murray. "He's intriguing because he's a pure goal scorer, and he's actually much better away from the puck than people think he is. He struggled the last couple years for different reasons. A great opportunity presented itself. It was a good match."
Heatley, who played for the Badgers for two seasons from 1999-2001, spent the past three seasons with the Minnesota Wild after coming over in a trade from the San Jose Sharks. Last season was the worst of Heatley's career production-wise, as he registered just 12 goals and 28 points in 76 games during the regular season.
After being a healthy scratch in the first two games of the playoffs against the Colorado Avalanche, Heatley appeared re-energized and was a major reason why the Wild were able to advance out of the first round. Heatley finished with five points in the five games he played in the series, including a goal and two assists in Game 7.
He's clearly lost a step -- maybe a couple of steps, actually -- but when used in the right situation he has the natural ability to score goals. Heatley still thinks he's got a lot left in the tank going forward.
"I feel good. I feel leaner," Heatley said. "I know the knock on me is that I'm not quick enough anymore. I disagree with that. I can still play this game. I'm still quick enough, fast enough, and I can score goals."
There's a possibility Heatley could be paired on a line next season with two of the league's best offensive players in Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. That opportunity was something that drew Heatley to the Ducks when the four-time NHL All-Star was looking at potential free agent options this summer.
"My job is to get in shape and be ready to play with those two guys," Heatley said. "I know those guys, and I've played with both of them, particularly Getzy. I love playing with the guy. He's one of the best players in the league, as is Corey Perry.
"We'll see what Bruce [Boudreau] wants to do. But my job is to be ready to go and be ready to get a chance with those two guys."
As for the his critics, Heatley is ready to prove them wrong.
"I feel like I have a lot to prove and a lot to give. I want to prove a lot of people wrong. I'm very happy Anaheim has given me that chance."
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