( Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton – USA TODAY Sports )

By: Mark Allred | Follow me on Twitter / X @BlackAndGold277

As the Boston Bruins navigate through the early stages of the 2024 National Hockey League offseason, decisions about re-signing players become crucial as the B’s look to retool the roster for the 2024-25 campaign. One such decision involves pending free agent forward Danton Heinen, known for his versatility and upside. Heinen represents a valuable asset that could be secured with a cost-effective, multi-year extension.

Heinen’s ability to play multiple forward positions makes him a unique asset for the Bruins. This organization thrives at finding available players who can play up and down the lineup. Throughout his tenure, Heinen has demonstrated proficiency on both wings and at center, providing Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery and coaching staff with flexibility in line combinations and creating instant chemistry.

Last season, the former fourth-round selection of the Bruins in 2014 had his second-best season in his NHL career, posting 17-19-36 numbers in 74 games. On September 5th, 2023, the Bruins signed Heinen to a professional tryout agreement, increasing the internal competition and depth for the upcoming 2023-24 regular-season roster. After an impressive showing in training camp and the early part of the season, Danton was signed to a one-year NHL contract on October 30th, worth an average annual value of $775,000 for the remainder of the year.

One of the primary reasons the Bruins should consider re-signing Heinen is the cost-effectiveness of such a move. Heinen’s expected salary would likely be more manageable than that of other free agents or potential trade targets. Given his consistent performance and role versatility, Heinen provides significant value relative to his likely contract demands. By securing Heinen on a cap-friendly deal, the Bruins can maintain financial flexibility while ensuring they have a reliable player who can contribute in various roles.

Heinen’s existing chemistry with key players on the Bruins further strengthens the case for his return. His successful integration into past line combinations, such as playing alongside Charlie Coyle, Trent Frederic, John Beecher, and Morgan Geekie, showcases his ability to mesh well with teammates. Maintaining this familiarity can be crucial for team cohesion and on-ice performance. Re-signing Heinen means preserving these established dynamics, which can be particularly beneficial during high-stakes moments in the regular season and playoffs.

Despite being relatively young, Heinen has grown significantly in his NHL career. At 28, he is entering what many consider a player’s prime years. Under the guidance of the Bruins’ coaching staff, there is a strong possibility that Heinen can continue to elevate his game. Investing in a player with untapped potential can pay dividends, especially when that player has already demonstrated the ability to perform at a high level within the organization.

The Bruins’ current roster and depth chart highlight the importance of retaining someone like Heinen. Depth forwards are crucial in sustaining a team’s success over a grueling 82-game season and into the playoffs. Heinen’s ability to contribute consistently across various scenarios makes him an ideal candidate for these critical-depth roles. The Bruins position themselves better for immediate challenges and future endeavors by ensuring they have reliable, versatile forwards.

In analyzing the current NHL free agent market, it’s clear that signing Heinen sooner rather than later could be advantageous. Market conditions, including demand for versatile forwards and salary cap constraints other teams face, might drive up prices for comparable players. Locking down Heinen on a reasonable contract now mitigates the risk of losing him to a higher bidder. It avoids the pressure of making hurried decisions closer to the season’s start.

Beyond his on-ice contributions, Heinen enjoys popularity among Bruins fans and has positively contributed to the community. Player loyalty and fan support are intangible factors that can influence team decisions. Re-signing a well-liked player like Heinen boosts team morale and strengthens the team’s relationship with its fanbase. The goodwill generated from such moves can enhance public relations and fan engagement, which are important aspects of a successful franchise.

In summary, re-signing Danton Heinen to a salary cap-friendly multi-year extension presents several strategic advantages for the Boston Bruins. His versatility, cost-effectiveness, existing chemistry with key players, developmental potential, and contribution to team depth all favor retaining him. Additionally, favorable market conditions and the positive impact on fan relations further strengthen the case. As the Bruins’ management evaluates their options, they should consider these factors and prioritize bringing Heinen back into the fold.