The Boston Bruins have re-signed Danton Heinen to a two-year contract extension worth $5.6 million. The deal carries an annual cap hit of $2.8 million and will keep Heinen with the team through the 2020-21 season.
This deal comes just under a month before Heinen’s arbitration meeting was set to take place on Aug. 3. The expectation was that both sides would ultimately come to terms on a new deal without the relationship souring and that’s exactly what happened on a very reasonable bridge deal.
Heinen will still be a restricted free agent at the end of this new deal. While many players look to take their bridge deals into unrestricted free agency if possible, the Bruins were fortunately able to sign Heinen to this fair cap hit (which could have reached $3 million per season in arbitration) while retaining one year of restricted status for the 6-foot-1 forward.
Heinen is an Underrated Player
Perhaps one of the most underrated Bruins even by the team’s own fan-base, the 24-year-old Heinen has been a very effective NHL player in his two seasons in the league thus far. Turning heads as a rookie with 16 goals and 47 points in 77 games, Heinen broke onto the scene in a big way.
Unfortunately, he’d take a step back in 2018-19 and would score only 11 goals and 34 points in 77 games as a sophomore while playing in primarily a third-line role. To his credit, though, Heinen’s peripherals have always been overwhelmingly positive and he’s been an efficient player with and without the puck despite the lack of offensive numbers painting him in a bad light for many.
While Heinen wasn’t given much time alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand last season, he proved to be among the most effective options next to the Bruins’ two next players. For whatever reason, though, head coach Bruce Cassidy felt most comfortable deploying David Pastrnak on the top line rather than alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk, limiting the production of the second line.
In the end, nobody can tell Cassidy that he’s wrong in his assessment as the Bruins qualified for the Stanley Cup Final despite the clear lack of five-on-five scoring the Bruins displayed all season long as well as the team’s top-six failing to produce offense when it counted.
Still, Heinen would find himself as a scapegoat for many regardless of the fact that he was far from the biggest problem on the team. Whether the criticisms were fair or not, the fact of the matter is the Bruins are a better team with Heinen on their team than they are without him. Statistically speaking, it’s an irrefutable fact. When watching him on the ice, it’s also difficult to point the finger at him on scoring plays against more often than not.
Related: Boston Bruins 2019 Offseason Outlook
The Bruins still have to take care of contracts for Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, both of whom are also restricted free agents. If the team is going to take care of this while also keeping a buffer of cap space heading into the regular season, they’ll have to make a trade or two.
There are options like David Backes, Kevan Miller and John Moore, all of whom are expendable at this point and carry cap hits that aren’t doing the team any favors.