The Vegas Golden Knights will have the 17th overall selection in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
In our May Draft Prospect Rankings, we have Ville Heinola as the 17th best prospect in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft prospect pool. Heinola is a left-handed defenseman who hails from Honkajoki, Finland.
In the Rankings post, we gave a brief description of Heinola and his playing style.
Ville Heinola is a good puck moving defenseman. He has great hockey IQ, great passing and a good shot. He’s good in all three zones. But, he does need to work on his skating as he is a tad slow and needs to get stronger.
We did mention speed is a concern and something that he needs to improve upon. It’s interesting to see a European defenseman who needs to work on getting faster. Many European prospects as of late have come to North America and have been out-skating Americans and Canadians. European prospects are used to playing on a bigger ice surface and that often translates to them being much faster when they play at the NHL or AHL level. Since Heinola needs to work on getting faster and improving his skating, perhaps he’ll look to train with someone like Gary Roberts (former NHLer, who trains hockey players).
Playing With Lukko & Team Finland
He’s been playing with Lukko in the Liiga. In 34 games played with Lukko this season, he registered 2 goals, 12 assists and 26 PIM. He also played in 7 playoff games and tallied 1 goal, 3 assists and 2 PIM.
In addition, he played for Team Finland at the World Junior Championships in Vancouver, British Columbia and Victoria, British Columbia. Heinola was featured alongside Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Henri Jokiharju at the World Juniors. He played in five World Junior games and registered one goal and one assist. While he wasn’t tallying point after point, he was still effective. Remember, Heinola is a two-way defenseman. He can be flashy in the offensive zone at times, but he’s not someone who will tally point after point. He’s a puck mover. Heinola is someone who you can depend on for transitional play and he shined in British Columbia. He helped Finland capture the gold medal.
Is He A Fit In Vegas?
The Vegas Golden Knights should look to add some defensemen to their prospect pool at the draft.
They dealt their top defenseman prospect, Erik Brannstrom to the Ottawa Senators in the Mark Stone trade. With Brannstrom in Ottawa, the top defenseman in the Golden Knights’ farm system is Nicolas Hague, who is currently playing with the Chicago Wolves (AHL club). Hague has promise, but is the notable defensive prospect that the Golden Knights have.
The good news for Golden Knights fans is that George McPhee stocked up on draft picks and could grab a few talented defensemen in the first three rounds. While it’s unclear if Heinola is someone that McPhee is coveting, he’d be a great addition the Golden Knights farm system and could be an asset in a few years for Vegas.
stats from eliteprospects.com and wikipedia.com
featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals