Winnipeg Jets fans were given a little gift on January 21st, as it was announced that Ville Heinola would make his 2021 season debut against the Ottawa Senators.
Heinola spent the first three regular season games on the taxi squad and waited for his chance to impress. Although quiet, he played a pretty impressive game given the fact that he was injected on the first defensive pair with Josh Morrissey. He finished the game with a plus-minus rating of plus-2, one shot on goal, and one takeaway. The fact that he was not too noticeable on the ice is a positive because it shows that he is not making too many mistakes.
Assuming Heinola gets his chance to stay in the lineup, what can he bring to the Jets for this season? This article discusses just that and dives a little bit into his future with the Jets.
Heinola’s High Offensive IQ
Many players have a high offensive IQ, but the fact that he possesses this as a young defenseman is very impressive. He can make plays that look like what Erik Karlsson could do when he played for the Ottawa Senators. Examples of this include what he did for the Finnish power play in the 2020-21 World Junior Championships (WJC). Although the goal in the video below did not count, it shows his hockey IQ, smooth skating, and puck handling ability.
One more example is his outstanding behind-the-back pass to Finnish teammate Anton Lundell. This play shows his hockey IQ more than anything, as he makes a no-look pass to Lundell. Without looking, he knew that he was there. Not only was it a beautiful pass, but it also led to the game-tying goal, which propelled Finland to a victory over Sweden in the quarter-finals.
It is always impressive when a young player can make beautiful plays, but the confidence that Heinola shows is way above his age. It will be a treat to watch him on the Jets’ power play throwing passes over to Patrik Laine (hopefully) for a sure goal. With Morrissey and Neal Pionk doing well on the power play for the team this year, Jets’ fans may have to wait a little while until Heinola ultimately gets his shot.
Heinola’s Winning Experience
Not many players can say they have won too many championships at the age of nineteen, but that is not the case for Heinola. At a young age, he already has a WJC bronze medal in 2020-21 and a gold medal in 2018-19. He played a big part in both of those teams but most notably was named to the tournament all star team in 2020.
Heinola was drafted by the Jets at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft at 20th overall, after his gold medal with Finland. The Jets got a sneak peek of him at the World Junior’s and realized what type of player he is and what type of player he is going to be for their club.
The Jets blue line is not very talented, but they have some pieces that can do some damage. Heinola, Pink, Morrissey, Dylan Samberg, and Logan Stanley are some players who will make the defence core very good in the coming years.
So where does Heinola ultimately fit in the Jets’ future plans? The answer is simple, he will one day be a top-2 defenseman on the team. I understand that is some high praise for a player who is very inexperienced in the league so far, but from what I have seen so far, his confidence and attitude are already at a professional level.
I see Heinola and Morrissey paired up together for the rest of Morrissey’s contract up to 2027-28. This is a great pairing that could be top 10 in the league in a few years. Morrissey provides an offensive ability that is general to most defensemen, but when you add that in with his great stick in the defensive zone, he is worth his contract. Heinola paired with him will work wonders for the Jets because when he decides to jump into the play and create some offence, the defensive side of Morrissey can come out and stay back to protect Connor Hellebuyck.
Not only will Heinola be a top-pairing guy, but he will also quarterback the Jets’ top power play unit alongside Laine, Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor, and hopefully newcomer Cole Perfetti. This could end up being a top power play by the time it is all said and done.
Well, Jets fans, the time has arrived where the World Junior stud is in the lineup. Let’s hope it stays this way because the way that Heinola plays the game is very exciting and promising for a Jets’ fan’s future. Let’s hope that he has gotten his shot and will never look back.
With that being said, let me know what you guys think of Heinola’s game so far. Where would you slot him on the team? How do these defensive pairs look in your mind? Where do you see him in 5 years? I am always interested in what you guys have to say!