Ville Heinola, a member of the Winnipeg Jets organization, was once one of the fastest-rising prospects from the 2019 NHL draft. He had an impressive training camp and preseason in the fall of 2019, and earned a look on the team’s season-opening roster. Heinola scored five points in eight games before being sent down to the AHL and then eventually departing to play in his native Finland, and most were of the belief that Heinola was nearing a role as a regular defenseman in Winnipeg. Since that point, though, Heinola has skated in just 17 more NHL games, and currently finds himself on the outside looking in on the team’s blueline situation.
Apparently, this hasn’t sat well with Heinola or his camp. Heinola is “reportedly growing frustrated with being sent to the AHL” again this season, according to his agent, Alain Roy, via The Hockey News’ Jacob Stoller. “Ville doesn’t deserve a guaranteed spot in the lineup,” Roy said. “He deserves a shot to play a run of games to show he can do it. And that’s all we’re asking for.” Heinola is just 21 years old and a talented puck mover, but he hasn’t yet shown the defensive prowess or strength and speed combination that would force the Jets’ hand. With Josh Morrissey, Dylan Samberg, and Brenden Dillon each occupying spots on the left side of the Jets’ blueline, Winnipeg may not be able to afford Heinola the “run of games” he desires.
Some other notes from across the NHL:
- The New Jersey Devils are the NHL’s hottest team at the moment, but goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood has not been one of the team’s bright spots. Blackwood has an .880 save percentage this year, and it appears he now has to face another issue beyond just his performance. Devils coach Lindy Ruff said, as relayed by Devils team reporter Amanda Stein, that Blackwood is “meeting with doctors” in Calgary today. Blackwood left his last game in discomfort, and this could be a signal that he might miss some time.
- The Pittsburgh Penguins have gotten off to a slow start so far this season, and among many reasons for the team’s lackluster performance has been the uneven start from star defenseman Kris Letang. Letang hasn’t been his best so far this season, and today we received some explanation as to why. Per Letang, he has been battling an illness and has been playing through it for the past stretch of games. The Penguins are eager to get their season back on track quickly given how competitive the Metropolitan Division looks, so getting Letang back to full health would be a major step toward getting there.