Player: Danton Heinen
Born: July 5, 1995 (26 years old)
Weight: 188 pounds
Hometown: Langley, British Columbia
Draft: 116th overall - 2014 - Boston Bruins
2021-22 Statistics: 76 GP, 18 G, 15 A, 33 P, 16 PIM
Contract Status: Signed a one-year, $1.1 million contract on July 29, 2021. Heinen is eligible for restricted free agency if tendered by the Penguins; unrestricted free agent if not tendered.
Heinen’s 18 goals were career-best totals. His 33 points were his highest point totals since the 2018-19 season with the Boston Bruins.
Heinen played in all seven of the Penguins’ games during the first-round matchup. The winger recorded three goals and four penalty minutes in those contests.
Story of the Season
Danton Heinen’s 2021-22 season got off to an incredible start. He scored three goals in his first three games with his new team. He accrued four goals and six points throughout October. Between November 6 and November 16, he was held without a point.
Heinen added two more goals between November 18 and November 22 but would go through the next six contests with zero points. Noticing a theme here?
Large spurts of consistent offense, then long dry spells followed. This was Heinen in a nutshell.
Towards the end of the season, the Canadian started to find his offensive touch again. He scored goals in three straight games again from April 12 through April 16. Heinen would play in 13 games throughout the last month of the season and recorded six points during that last stretch of play.
Regular season 5v5 advanced stats
Data via Natural Stat Trick. The ranking is out of 17 forwards on the team who qualified by playing a minimum of 150 minutes.
Corsi For%: 54.14 (6th)
Goals For%: 54.22 (9th)
xGF%: 56.80 (5th)
Scoring Chance %: 57.33 (4th)
High Danger Scoring Chance%: 58.12 (4th)
5v5 on-ice shooting%: 9.15 (3rd)
On-ice save%: 90.48 (15th)
Outside of his on-ice save percentage, Heinen’s advanced metrics here paint a nice picture. Solid with puck possession, can create decent offense, isn’t afraid to shoot the puck. Ticks just about every box you’d want from a cheap depth player.
Unless he bottomed out, Heinen was almost certainly going to see some uptick in his production moving on from a lowly Anaheim Ducks team to a Pittsburgh Penguins club that is no stranger to offense. No statistic on the above chart sticks out like a sore thumb. It is quality, above-average play from a top-nine forward who had been down on his luck and in a bad situation with a noncompetitive Anaheim team.
Sure, his finishing wasn’t the greatest throughout the season, but for his price tag and what he gave the team in 2021-22, I’d take this player seven days a week.
The Athletic’s projection of Heinen finishing with 26 points and him finishing the campaign with 33 points is pretty much on par with the kind of player Heinen has developed into.
Heinen is not a player who exits the zone at all but is on the ice to get the puck and shoot it at the other end. His entries are good, and his passing is average at best, but shooting the puck is really where he excels and focuses.
Danton Heinen scored 15 goals at 5v5 this past season.— Danny Shirey (@DannyShireyPGH) June 1, 2022
Other Penguins to score 15+ 5v5 goals in a single season since 06-07:
Heinen averaged the lowest TOI of Pens FWDs.
Pretty solid company in that list, eh?
DANTON HEINEN IS BACK, BABY! pic.twitter.com/JOznXOEN81— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 9, 2022
SCRATCH MY BACK WITH A HACKSAW!— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 23, 2021
IT'S A GOAL FROM DANTON HEINEN! pic.twitter.com/ud4spjnf97
Has Danton Heinen ever scored goals in three straight games?— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 16, 2021
NOW HE HAS! pic.twitter.com/XzWlXitflC
First Penguins goal against the Lightning.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 15, 2021
First Penguins goal against the Panthers.
Danton Heinen is off to a solid start! pic.twitter.com/viS6Ix8SoK
MORE OF THIS, PLEASE!— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 13, 2022
Danton Heinen now has points (3G-3A) in six of nine career games vs. the Islanders. pic.twitter.com/2J6M7ObaXT
This one sure was a 'treat' for Danton Heinen! pic.twitter.com/QptVOp5hJb— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 30, 2021
If put in a position to succeed and placed with decent linemates, there is no reason why Heinen can’t be a regular 35-40-point player. Sure, the offense was streaky at times, and he ended up in Mike Sullivan’s doghouse on a few occasions, but Heinen outperformed his cap hit and gave the Penguins a legitimate option when it came to depth scoring.
Heinen finished eighth on the team in points, according to Hockey Reference. The 47-point player he was with the Boston Bruins is the high-water mark, but Heinen proved he was no slouch with the puck on his stick. Trailing only the likes of Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Kris Letang, and a few others, this is the kind of player the Penguins need on their team.
Pittsburgh’s days of routinely competing for Stanley Cups may be at an end, but while Sidney Crosby is still here, this team needs to be competitive. Danton Heinen can help ease the load for an aging-but-still-dominant Sidney Crosby.
Ideally, for the Penguins’ sake, Heinen returns to the club for the 2022-23 season. Pittsburgh currently has approximately $23 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly. A good portion of that amount is likely to go to Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, a new backup goalie, and a few other players to round out the roster heading into next season.
The Penguins will probably need to jettison some money to make everything work (assuming both Malkin and Letang return in this scenario). A trade of Brian Dumoulin, Marcus Pettersson, or Jason Zucker can’t be ruled out. That’s a conversation for another time, however.
If Heinen returns to the Steel City for another year, odds are he is going to receive the same or a similar type of deployment next season as he got this year. And that’s not a bad thing for the player or the team.
Otherwise, the Penguins may have to hit the bargain bin in July to find 2022’s version of Danton Heinen.
Question to ponder
Has Heinen’s bounce-back campaign priced him out of a reunion with Pittsburgh? Possibly. His $1.1 million price tag is almost certainly to see an increase, but how much of a raise will the 26-year-old receive?
How would you grade Danton Heinen’s 2021-22 season?
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