MADISON, Wis. — The decision is in and WCHA teams will have to endure another season of Dany Heatley.
The Wisconsin phenom announced Wednesday he will return to school for his sophomore season, rather than accept what surely would be a lucrative deal with the Atlanta Thrashers, who drafted him with the No. 2 pick in the June NHL draft.
“I just don’t think that I am ready,” Heatley told the Canadian Press. “I think another year in school would help me on and off the ice and better prepare me to come back to Atlanta next year.”
Heatley, 19, was the WCHA’s rookie of the year last season, helping Wisconsin to the MacNaughton Cup as the regular-season champions. He scored 28 goals and 28 assists in 38 games.
Since the draft, Heatley, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound Calgary, Alberta, native, said he changed his mind many times.
“It’s been crazy here since the draft — some days I’m totally set on leaving and other days I want to go back,” he said. “It’s nice to get it over with and off your back.”
One of the only weaknesses scouts saw in Heatley’s play last season with the Badgers was his speed. That may have factored into his decision to return to school.
“Any time an 18- or 19-year-old guy gets thrown into the league, it’s going to be tough on him,” Heatley said. “Hopefully I can get bigger and stronger and quicker and be able to make that step a little bit better next year.”