Heatley has nifty 50 goal

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:11 AM ET

He is the first player in the NHL to have back-to-back 50-goal seasons since Pavel Bure six years ago.

Now Dany Heatley will be bidding to become the first player to have back-to-back-to-back 50-goal seasons since ... ?

"John LeClair, I think," quickly answered the Senators winger earlier this week when asked if he knew the last player to do it.

"I'm pretty sure it was John LeClair. The Legion of Doom. Check it out."

Sure enough, Heatley was right.

LeClair had seasons of 51, 50 and 51 goals from 1995-98 with the Flyers, centred by Eric Lindros and with Mikael Renberg on the other wing.

With Jason Spezza back to dish him the puck at centre -- but with a winger to be named later at this point -- Heatley should be well positioned to take a run at equalling LeClair's feat.

Keep in mind that at 26 years of age, Heatley is just starting to get into the prime of his career.

800-POUND GORILLA

Of course, in addition to Heatley's pursuit of 50 goals again, the 800-pound gorilla in the dressing room is the fact he can become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

It sure sounds like Heatley wants to test the market and why wouldn't he? Another strong season will make him the crown jewel of next summer's free agent market.

Heatley and Atlanta's Marian Hossa, the guy for whom he was traded, are by far the two most attractive potential UFAs next summer in what looks like a lean market for forwards compared to this past summer.

Heatley, Hossa and Senators centre Mike Fisher will have sick money thrown at them if they get to free agency given the rest of the "names" in the field are old and past their prime (Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin, Sergei Fedorov, Doug Weight, Brendan Shanahan, etc.)

While there have been some preliminary discussions between Senators GM Bryan Murray and the Heatley camp, Heatley made it clear he is not interested in getting bogged down in talks.

LIKELY TO TEST MARKET

"I don't think we'd like to do anything during the season. I think you've seen some contract (talks) in the past with guys that have lingered all season and I don't think we want to get into a situation like that.

"I think it's a distraction to the player and the team."

Heatley was one of the 48 players to report to Senators camp yesterday as they checked in for medicals and fitness testing at Scotiabank Place.

Heatley checked in about "four or five" pounds heavier he said after working on getting stronger in the off-season.

He said he plans to tweak his game a little this season by trying to shoot more.

He has boosted the number of shots he has taken in each of the four NHL seasons he has been healthy. He took 202 shots in his rookie season with the Thrashers and bumped that to 252 his second year.

He dropped to 83 in 31 games in 2003-04 as he recovered from a knee injury sustained in the car accident that claimed the life of former Thrasher Dan Snyder.

He fired 300 shots on net in his first season with the Senators as he recorded his first 50-goal season and the first in Senators history in 2005-06.

He had another 50 goals last year on 310 shots.

"The goal is the same as every other year. Come in and shoot the puck as much as I can. I'm playing with Spezz as usual who is going to give me some chances. I had a few more shots than I did the year before and I want to shoot a little bit more this year. It's as simple as that," he said.

"(Getting 50) is always a goal."

He'll bid for 50 again.

Then, if Murray can't sign him, let the serious bidding begin.


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