After a brief period of silence, the Boston Bruins have made some more noise this offseason.
It’s not extremely loud noise like that would come along with trading for Elias Lindholm, but they did make some, when the team announced that they had signed another veteran forward in Danton Heinen to a professional tryout contract on Tuesday afternoon.
Heinen was originally drafted by the Bruins 116th overall, out of the British Columbia Hockey League, but after earning a scholarship to play hockey at the University of Denver, Heinen elected to go the college route.
After playing for the Pioneers for two seasons under current Boston head coach Tim Montgomery, Heinen signed a three-year, entry level contract with the Bruins in 2017. In his short time with Denver, he played a total of 81 games where he scored 36 goals, and also tacked on 57 assists (93 points).
During the 2016-17 season – his first professional one – Heinen played 64 games with the Providence Bruins where he scored 14 goals, and also tacked on 30 assists (44 pts) before being called up to the NHL.
The following two seasons, Heinen set a career-high in games played by playing in his most games in his entire career – taking part in 77 games in both seasons. He also scored 27 goals, and tallying 54 assists (61 pts). He also set a career-high in assists that season with 31.
Despite signing an extension to stay in Boston in 2019 following the Bruins’ Stanley Cup Finals run, Heinen was traded mid-way through the season to the Anaheim Ducks for Nick Ritchie.
Following his tenure with the Ducks, Heinen signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and remained there through the 2022-23 season. In his first season with the Penguins, Heinen came one game short of tying his career-high marker of 77 games, but he did set a career-high in goals with 18.
What does Heinen bring that none of the other forwards signed do?
Being intimately familiar with a certain coach’s style is something that is a very underrated feature in someone’s game – especially at the forward position. Heinen will know first-hand what is expected of him in the role from his coach’s point of view.
Heinen, like Lucic, has played in Boston and already knows what the fans will be expecting of him, but his reuniting with his college coach should propel him to not only do well at his position, but excel.
This leads me to my second point, of Heinen having experienced the fans. Truthfully, Boston is a very tough place for any athlete to play, no matter the sport. Each sport has a history of championships, and over the years the fans have gotten used to winning championships almost every year, if not, coming very close.
Heinen also understands the heightened expectations, both from playing in Boston and his time in Pittsburgh. He understand that he needs to be on his game, and does what it takes to win. Yes, van Riemsdyk did have his time with the Philadelphia Flyers where they have a very rabid fan base (to say the least), but he is not familiar with Boston fans… At least not yet.
Heinen brings a veteran presence with him in his coming back to the Bruins, and reuniting with his college coach should help him with his play. In fact, it should him even more than coming back to the team he made his debut with should.