An offense-minded defenseman with top-four upside who can run a powerplay unit. An excellent skater but needs to get stronger to improve in the defensive zone. Undersized, which limits his ability to play a physical game. Provides very little in the hits and blocks categories.
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October 2023 – Heinola underwent surgery on his fractured left ankle sustained on Thursday, October 5, 2023, against the Ottawa Senators and will miss at least eight weeks. Heinola looked ready to make the Winnipeg Jets 2023-24 opening night roster after putting together the best NHL training camp of his career; he will open the season on the injured reserve. Mark Henry
August 2023 – Heinola enters the 2023-24 season (the final year of his three-year entry-level contract) as his make-or-break year for taking the next step with the Jets organization. Since being selected in the first round (20th overall) in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, he has played in the AHL and NHL four straight seasons without earning regular playing time with the Jets. Heinola will become a restricted free agent (RFA) after the 2023-24 campaign. Mark Henry
April 2022 – Heinola has spent this season jumping between the Jets and the AHL affiliate Manitoba Moose amassing a combined 54 total games in the 2021-22 campaign. The young blueliner has struggled to find consistent minutes for the Jets, often scratched due to their defensive depth. In his 12 active games, Heinola has five assists, averaging about 15 minutes per night, with minimal power-play opportunities. At 21, Heinola brings a wealth of experience, having competed in Liiga, AHL, NHL, and his second World Junior Championship last year alone. He has excelled at essentially every level except the NHL, so far. Jets fans have gotten a taste of his well rounded skill-set, gathering five assists in his last six appearances. Look for Heinola to gain more experience down the final stretch as the Jets are out of the playoff race. Heinola may be hard pressed to find meaningful minutes with five serviceable defenseman under contract until the end of the 2023-24 season, but consistent playing time will showcase his smarts, puck moving abilities, and smooth skating. While he looks at home with seasoned NHLers, patience will be key for him to work on his shot and tighten up his defensive positioning before taking that next step. Justin Kaye
April 2020 – Heinola had a solid outing at the U20 World Juniors, posting five points in seven games as Finland was unable to retain gold and fell to Sweden in the bronze medal game. The young defenseman continues his development in Liiga and will be at Jets training camp in September. Jamie Zadow
December 2019 – Heinola had a cup of coffee with the Jets to start the season, appearing in eight NHL games before finding himself back in Finland’s Liiga. The 18-year-old will join his fellow countrymen again at this year’s World Junior Championships as they chase down gold for the second year in a row. Jamie Zadow
June 2019 – Heinola has been drafted 20th overall by the Jets. Jokke Nevalainen
June 2019 – Heinola was officially measured at 5-foot-11.75 and 178 pounds at the NHL Draft Combine. Jokke Nevalainen
December 2018 – Heinola started this season in Jr. A SM-liiga but after putting up nine points in nine games, he was called up to the Liiga squad. Heinola’s performance in the Liiga has been so impressive that he’s stayed up ever since, and it’s looking very unlikely he would be sent back to junior ever again. Because of his strong performance in the Liiga, Heinola is expected to play a major role for Team Finland at the upcoming World Juniors.
Heinola’s counting stats in the Liiga may not look overly impressive – six points in 23 games – but he’s a 17-year-old defenseman playing pro hockey in one of the best leagues in the world, so his stats don’t tell the whole truth. He’s averaging about 18 minutes per game but over the past two months, his average ice time has been closer to 20 minutes. He’s been a regular on Lukko’s top power play, and he’s been used on the penalty kill as well.
Heinola is a talented offensive defenseman. Despite not having blazing top speed, Heinola is a great skater. His edge work is amazing. He’s a very smart player with good vision and passing skills. He also has pretty impressive one-on-one skills. Because of these talents, he can move the puck and also skate it up the ice himself. His shot isn’t the most powerful you’ll see out there but it’s good, and he’s very good at finding open lanes to get pucks to the net.
His defensive game is pretty good but there’s still room for improvement. He needs to add more muscle to win more puck battles, and he needs to improve his defensive zone coverage. He’s good at defending against rush attacks already, and his high hockey sense allows him to become a good two-way player. Heinola is a potential first round selection for the 2019 NHL Draft. Jokke Nevalainen