Get to Know New Pittsburgh Penguin Danton Heinen

Danton Heinen celebrates a preseason goal with Bryan Rust. Courtesy of NHL.com

The Penguins’ offseason was labeled as a rather weak one. They didn’t make any strikingly impressive additions. The Pens added Brock McGinn on a four-year deal worth $2.75 million AAV and Louis Domingue as a goaltending insurance policy.

Danton Heinen’s signing with Pittsburgh this offseason went mostly under the radar. Heinen is a 6’1” 26-year old left winger in his sixth season as an NHL player. He scored seven goals and 14 points in 43 games for the, bottom-feeder, Anaheim Ducks last season.  A deeper dive into his numbers show he’s a better player than what he did on a bad Anaheim team.

High Praise from Sullivan

In Heinen’s first full season, he posted 47 points in 77 games for the Bruins. He followed that up with a 34-point campaign during his sophomore season in this same amount of games. His production hasn’t come close to that number since.

Heinen has spent time with both Anaheim and Boston before signing his 1-year, $1.1 million AAV contract with Pittsburgh this offseason.  Through the Penguins’ first two games, only Evan Rodrigues can claim to have as many goals as Heinen. He’s been a very welcomed addition early on.

Heinen has made it very clear that he can shoot the puck with authority. Both of his goals have been pretty shots that flat out beat the goaltender. Not to mention, his defensive skills haven't looked too bad either.

Upon signing him, head coach Mike Sullivan had some solid praise for him saying,  "He has the offensive instincts to think the game on a high level.  I think he can play in the top-six if we need him to, but I think he'll also bring an offensive dimension to our top-nine if we need him to. I think he's going to be a real good player for us."

Looking at the Penguins current lineup, Heinen slotted into the de facto first line with Jeff Carter and Bryan Rust in game one due to several injuries and Covid issues for the Pens. Thursday evening, Heinen played on the right wing with McGinn and Teddy Blueger with Jake Guentzel reentering the lineup.

Heinen scoring on the same line as Carter on Opening Night is encouraging. Based on Sullivan’s above comments, one has to figure Heinen will play on the third line when all available personnel make it back. Carter would slot in as the third center when Crosby and Malkin are both in the lineup. If they can build a chemistry,  it would really bolster Pittsburgh’s depth.

Danton Heinen likely won’t be a star. He’s never scored more than 16 goals in a season and that came in his rookie year. But if he can pitch in 15+ goals in a third line role, it would go a long way in replacing what the Penguins lost in Jared McCann this offseason.


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