Why Is Dany Heatley Haunting Devin Setoguchi?


With the recent trade of Dany Heatley for Martin Havlat, it is hard to say which team has won this trade. Did the San Jose Sharks win this trade as they rid themselves of an overpaid underachiever while gaining a speedy, flashy winger? Or did the Minnesota Wild win this trade as they get a true sniper looking to rebound from an off year for a forward who clearly wasn’t working out in Minny?

If one thing is for sure from this trade, it is that Devin Setoguchi comes out on the bottom. To understand why, let’s take a look at Setoguchi’s career thus far.

In the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Setoguchi was selected by the Sharks 8th overall after a breakout campaign for Saskatoon in the WHL. After playing four seasons in the WHL, compiling 243 points in 255 games, Setoguchi was ready to begin his pro career in the 2007-08 season. Splitting time between the AHL and the NHL, Setoguchi put up respectable numbers for his rookie campaign.

In his sophomore season, Setoguchi found himself on a line with All-Star center, Joe Thornton. This was due to the fact that Sharks winger, Jonathan Cheechoo completely lost his game. Coming off his “Rocket Richard” campaign where he notched 56 goals in the 2005-06 season, Cheechoo followed that performance up with campaigns of 69, 37 and 29 points respectively. With Cheechoo’s 37 points the previous year, San Jose decided to try Setoguchi on Thornton’s wing at the start of the 2008-09 season.

When paired with one of the best centers in the game, Setoguchi busted out for 31 goals and 65 points. Looking to build on his impressive second year in the league, Setoguchi was posed to become one of the young dangerous wingers in the NHL. Then came the summer of 2009 when everything changed.

In the summer of 2009, the Ottawa Senators were going through a transition period after they made the Stanley Cup final two years prior, but then failed to make the playoffs that season. Feeling like his role on the team was being diminished, sniper Dany Heatley demanded a trade out of the nation’s capital. After blocking a trade to the Edmonton Oilers, Heatley forced Ottawa’s hand and he was moved to San Jose. This is where the horror for Setoguchi begins.

With a great sophomore season behind him and penciled in to be Thornton’s winger for the 2009-2010 season, Setoguchi was feeling good about his game. But then came “The Heater” and he ruined everything. Instead of playing shotgun to Thornton, Setoguchi was moved down the depth chart as he played on the second and third lines. Improving every year since his junior days, Setoguchi took his first step backwards in his development. Setoguchi was only able to muster 36 points in the 2009-10 season for an offensive powerhouse Sharks team.

It was easy to understand why Heatley was favored over Setoguchi on Thornton’s wing. Heatley was a two-time 50 goal scorer and was the big acquisition by the Sharks that summer that was supposed to put them over the top. In going with Heatley over Setoguchi, his minutes were reduced and his scoring chances took a huge dive. With his entry level contract expiring at the end of the 2009-10 season, the Sharks had to decide what to do with Setoguchi. Was his 65 point campaign lightning in a bottle? Was his 36 point season his norm?  In the end, San Jose gave Setoguchi another year to prove himself as they signed him to a one-year deal.

Setoguchi’s 2010-11 season was much better than his previous year, but his point totals did not blow anyone away. Starting the year off with two goals and seven points in his first 21 games, after missing nine games with an injury, he ended the year with 20 goals and 34 points in his last 51 games. With Heatley struggling in his second year as a Shark, Setoguchi saw his offensive role increase on the team and he was beginning to find his form.

In need of a new contract, Setoguchi came to terms with the Sharks on a new three-year deal that would keep him in teal for the foreseeable future. But with Heatley earning big bucks on a long-term deal, and with San Jose in need of blue line help, Setoguchi found himself on the trade train a day after he signed his contract. Shipped to Minnesota for Brent Burns, Setoguchi found himself on a new team that was offensively challenged and in a three-year playoff drought. Not quite what he thought when he signed his name to a new contract to stay with the Sharks.

But the trade gave Setoguchi new life. With the Wild ranked in the bottom third of the league in scoring, Setoguchi figured to play a huge role in the teams offensive attack. And with three seasons of 20 goals or more, Setoguchi had a shot to play on the Wild’s first line with a great playmaking center in Mikko Koivu. He could also get first line minutes and first unit powerplay time. But nine days later, his nightmare would begin all over again.

The Sharks and the Wild teamed up for another huge trade as the team swapped former Sens Dany Heatley for Martin Havlat. Now instead of Setoguchi lining up with Koivu on the first line, the Heatley acquisition pushes him once again down the depth chart. Heatley was once again brought in as the hired gun that will help the Wild light the lamp more often then not. Setoguchi is now seen as a complimentary piece to Heatley and will provide second line support.

Heatley’s presence on the teams he has played for has had adverse effects. From the controversial way he was traded from Atlanta and Ottawa, to the effects he has had in locker rooms, and to the development of teammates, Heatley seems to bring a negative connotation where ever he goes. Unfortunately for Setoguchi, Heatley seems to have a lock on him to ensure he never reaches his full potential.


Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.

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