(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By: Andrew Bluestein | Follow Me On Twitter / X @adbblue

During this past off-season, Danton Heinen had no contract offers on the table. The Boston Bruins signed him to a professional tryout ahead of training camp. His preseason performance earned him the team’s final roster spot, which he had to wait for so the organization could become salary cap compliant before they could make it official.  

When he finally signed with the team, it was a one-year $775,000 deal, which is the league’s veteran minimum. Heinen’s performance this season has been worth far more than that for many reasons, as he has contributed in many ways. 

He has undoubtedly been one of the team’s best defensive forwards. His ability to turn defense into offense has been very noticeable, and several times, a play he’s made in the defensive zone has led to a Bruins goal. The former Bruins fourth-round pick has forced 25 takeaways this season, fourth on the team. He has also been a crucial part of the penalty-killing depth, averaging 1:07 of shorthanded time on ice per game. 

Heinen is a guy who puts a lot of emphasis on the minor details, which add up to him being a solid two-way player. His versatility has been very important to the Bruins’ lineup this season, where he’s been moved around quite a bit. His willingness and ability to play numerous roles have made him such a valuable part of the team. He’s played mostly on the bottom two lines, but we did see him get bumped up into the top two lines briefly earlier in the season. 

Offensively, the former University of Denver Pioneer has also been a factor. He currently has a line of 8-9-17 and a +11 rating. His plus-minus rating is the fourth-best on the team among forwards. Heinen’s numbers could be even better, as he’s had a high volume of scoring chances where he couldn’t quite finish. This season, the highlight of his journey occurred this past Saturday in a 9-4 win against the Montreal Canadiens. Heinen recorded his first career NHL hat trick, scoring in each period of the game. His third goal was on the power play when head coach Jim Montgomery sent him out on the man advantage with an 8-4 lead. 

Montgomery spoke about Heinen’s hat trick and how badly the team wanted him to get it. “That’s one thing about the Bruins, is how unselfish we are. I’ve said it so many times: it’s amazing how everybody cares about everybody. They continuously went down low to try to get to Heinen, so it was nice. I’m happy for him, but more happy with the way it developed and the way we tried to get him the hat trick.” 

Heinen’s teammates have also appreciated and respected what he’s done for the team this season and how he’s earned it. Charlie Coyle talked about what Heinen has meant to the team this season after the 9-4 win over Montreal. “I was pumped about it, heard he was coming to camp. I had a pretty good feeling we’d be seeing him in this lineup, and that’s a tough spot to be in. He earned a spot in training camp. I give him so much credit. He’s an awesome guy, an awesome human being, and an all-time teammate. Came to the rink every day and practiced. No negativity, just positive all day. Earned a contract, and he’s been outstanding for us.”

It’s clear the team is thrilled to have him back for his second stint wearing the Spoked B, and he’s earned it and then some. After recording his hat trick against Montreal, he mentioned why he’s happy to be in Boston again. “It’s special to be a part of it; that’s why I wanted to make this team. It’s a great group to be a part of. Got to keep building, keep working, and keep trying to help the team.” He’s played far beyond what his contract is worth, and for a guy who didn’t have any offers this past off-season, he has been easily one of the best stories in the league this season.