Player: Danton Heinen
Born: July 5, 1995 (Age 27 season)
Height: 6’ 1”
Weight: 188 pounds
Hometown: Langley, British Columbia, Canada
Draft: 2014 NHL Draft, 4th round (116th overall) by the Boston Bruins
2022-23 Statistics: 65 games played, 8 goals, 14 assists = 22 points
Contract Status: Heinen is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.
Fun fact: Not exactly a “fun fact,” but after scoring two goals against the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 22nd, Heinen did not record another goal until January 24th, a drought of 34 games.
Hidden Stat: Heinen is certainly not the only Penguin that falls into this camp, but his shooting percentage tanked almost five points, from 13.0% in 2021-22 to a career low 8.3% this past season.
History: 2021-22: 30% A, 64% B, 6% C.
Great start to the year from Heinen with six points in nine games in October but then the offense evaporated from November until January. Missing most of February to injury didn’t help but he did put up six points over the last 20 games which is a better performance than any of his other bottom-sox teammates can claim.
Story of the Season
A superb 2021-22 season with the Penguins saw Heinen score a career high 18 goals and post his best numbers since before the pandemic. With those stellar numbers, many figured he priced himself out of Pittsburgh, but almost three weeks into free agency, Heinen was still on the market. On July 27th, Heinen resigned with the Penguins on a one year deal for just a million dollars.
With how cap strapped the Penguins were, getting a player like Heinen at that price was a bargain and he filled a role perfectly. His season started out strong with three goals and six points in October and was showing signs of his form from the season prior until an extended dry spell saw him go goalless until late January.
Injuries benched him most of February but he was able to get healthy and back into the lineup where he found some production again over the final 20 games of the season and tried to do his part to help the Penguins playoff push.
Regular season 5v5 advanced stats
Data via Natural Stat Trick. Ranking is out of 16 forwards on the team who qualified by playing a minimum of 150 minutes.
Corsi For%: 51.1% (9th)
Goals For%: 46.3% (10th)
xGF%: 53.3% (11th)
Scoring Chance %: 51.8% (9th)
High Danger Scoring Chance%: 52.3% (10th)
5v5 on-ice shooting%: 7.37% (8th)
On-ice save%: .906% (13th)
Goals/60: 0.65 (9th)
Assist/60: 1.21 (4th)
Points/60: 1.87 (5th)
Terrible finishing for Heinen in 2022-23 but that was par for the course if you were a member of the Penguins this season. Heinen went from a career high shooting percentage last season to a career low this campaign and his box score numbers are reflective of that.
Lack of finishing really threw a wet towel over what was a decent season from Heinen analytics wise. Really good offensive and defensive numbers and the G/60 number is solid but the finishing just never came around.
There are a lot of players across the league making way more money who give you way less than you will get with Heinen on the ice. For being stuck in the black hole known as the Penguins bottom-six this season Heinen still produced solid analytics it’s just a shame his finishing wasn’t there to back it up on the scoresheet.
Heinen was a bottom-six mainstay who got a few short cameos alongside Evgeni Malkin on the second line. It’s easy to look at his box score stats and have a negative view of his season but being chained to Jeff Carter for the majority of the season isn’t the optimal situation if you are hoping for offense.
Three points for Danton Heinen on Tuesday... and a game-tying goal tonight! We like what we see! pic.twitter.com/FtpxgwkDHm— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 27, 2023
Go to the net and good things happen: a lesson from Danton Heinen. pic.twitter.com/uH2G4JdeTj— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 25, 2023
Danton Heinen jams to the net and whacks Crosby's rebound home out of mid-air, 3-0 Penguins!#LetsGoPens pic.twitter.com/WopHElpT90— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) April 8, 2023
Danton Heinen gets to the front of the net and puts home Rakell's feed, tying it up at 4 for the Penguins!#LetsGoPens pic.twitter.com/H0ahTL0tuK— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) March 8, 2023
Going to the left of the goalie seemed to be working pretty well for Danton Heinen tonight! pic.twitter.com/PpLQqXVvXs— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 23, 2022
On paper, this season was a huge step back for Heinen and makes sense if the Penguins decide to move on from him this summer. When you dig a little deeper, you find the story of his season is not quite as cut and dry.
Having his finishing hit rock bottom after what he did last season put a major dent into his overall numbers, but for being a large part of the much maligned bottom-six, Heinen still posted solid analytics that make a strong case for giving him another shot next season, especially when his price tag will likely remain low.
Whether in Pittsburgh or somewhere else, there is certainly an NHL roster spot available for Heinen next season. His underlying numbers will be attractive to forward thinking front offices and he’ll play cheap which is a bonus for teams near the upper end of the salary cap.
It’s hard to pin point exactly the type of player Heinen is since his seasons vary so widely and he’s often snake bitten when it comes to scoring goals. With his underlying stats, an improvement in shooting percentage will help boost his point total. Whoever takes over the reigns in Pittsburgh should at least kick the tires on bringing Heinen back for another go.
How would you grade Danton Heinen’s 2022-23 season?