Rumors have begun to surface surrounding young Winnipeg Jets blue liner Ville Heinola. His agent stated that while his client knows there are no guarantees, he is growing frustrated with the lack of opportunity he’s getting to showcase himself.
Heinola, 21, was a first-round draft selection back in 2019 by the Jets. Since then, he has only played 25 games in the NHL, scoring 1 goal and adding 9 assists for 10 points.
The young Finnish D-man has split the rest of his time between the Manitoba Moose in the AHL and Lukko of the LIIGA in Finland (on loan). This season, Heinola has started well with 4 assists through the first 8 games with the Moose.
Two potential destinations for disgruntled Jets prospect Ville Heinola.
With that being said, there are plenty of teams looking for an improvement on the back end. Here are two potential destinations for the young gun that could give him a better chance to shine.
Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs have been involved in rumors for a new blueliner since the season started. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if they tried to make the money work around Ville Heinola.
He could get some playing time on the bottom pairing and would be learning from some veterans who know the game well while playing on a contending team where he can prove himself as an NHL mainstay.
I can see the Leafs only having to give up a draft pick. But, assuming they have to give up a player, I won’t be surprised if it’s Justin Holl or Wayne Simmonds.
I feel like any swap between these two teams would involve players who both need fresh starts, which Simmonds is likely going to get and Holl was rumored to get last season.
The Oilers already made a prospect swap earlier in the year, trading Dmitri Samorukov to the Blues for Klim Kostin. Samorukov wouldn’t have earned any ice time in the NHL with the Oilers so it makes sense, whereas Kostin may earn some 4th-line time barring any injuries.
I can see GM Ken Holland looking at swapping someone like Tyler Benson or Mattias Janmark for Ville Heinola. It’s clear the Oilers aren’t the best team defensively, but they only have one or two holes to fill.
Unfortunately, Benson and Janmark are both players I don’t think will be earning bottom six spots during the season unless we see a few injuries and even then, Woodcroft would prefer to run 11 forwards and 7 D-men.
Bringing in Heinola would be a low-risk, high-reward play. The Jets don’t seem to value him as much as he’s worth, and he won’t cost too much to acquire. If he pans out and becomes a top-4 D-man, or even a bottom-4 D-man, that’s depth that any team didn’t have before bringing him in.