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Ville Heinola continues his rapid ascent up our draft rankings. Heinola has quickly advanced this season, playing in Finland’s top men’s league where he has two goals and 10 assists for 12 points in 34 games for Lukko. He took his game to another level in the SM-Liiga playoffs with a goal and three assists in seven games. He also played nine games in the Finnish Under-20 league, putting up one goal and eight assists to be a point-per-game player in his short time in that league this year.
Heinola has also represented his country on a number of occasions. He played on the World Junior squad, winning a gold medal and putting up two points in six games. In the summer, he picked up two assists in four games at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. Last season, Heinola scored three assists in five games for Finland at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. He has joined the Finnish team and is preparing for the 2019 IIHF Under-18 World Hockey Championship.
Ville Heinola Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Left
Born March 2nd, 2001 — Honkajoki, Finland
Height 5’11” — Weight 181 lbs [181 cm/82 kg]
Heinola has very good mobility. He has excellent agility, strong crossovers, and very good pivots. This skating ability allows Heinola to get around the ice effectively. His acceleration and speed are good but not great. He could stand to get a little quicker in his first few steps. Some work with a skating coach to improve his stride would also help him to be faster and more powerful. Right now, he does not fall behind the play and is certainly not slow, but there is room for improvement too. His balance is decent due to his low centre of gravity but he could stand to get stronger and this will help him in battles on the boards and in front of the net.
Heinola is a very smart player. He reads the play well in both ends of the ice. Offensively, he starts the transition game with a good first pass. He also has the vision and poise with the puck to quarterback things from the point. Heinola is very creative and willing to put the puck through tight spaces to set up a teammate. He is also a very good stickhandler. Heinola can skate the puck out of his own end and make plays through the neutral zone. He also has the poise to handle the puck and the patience to wait for the opportunity to make plays at the point.
Heinola uses his agility to walk the line and open up passing and shooting lanes. He has a very good slap shot and a good wrist shot with a quick release. Heinola makes good decisions to sneak down from the point and get that wrist shot off from the top of the circles. This can be particularly effective on the power play. He also understands how to get them on the net and keeps his shot low to encourage deflections and rebounds.
Defensively, Heinola cuts down passing lanes and creates turnovers. His intelligence extends to his own end, as he reads the play well and anticipates what opponents will do. His positioning is good and his stick is very quick. He uses his good agility and edgework to maintain good gap control and to force opponents to the outside. Heinola is still a bit undersized and this limits his ability to play a physical game. He is not a big hitter, preferring to use his stick to break up plays. He will need to improve his upper-body strength in order to be better in front of the net and along the boards.
Projection and Comparison
Heinola is a real boom or bust type of prospect. With his intelligence and skill set, he could develop into a top pair defenceman who can run his team’s power play. The skating will need to improve for him to reach that ceiling, but even if it does not, he could still become a second pair player with offensive upside. Improvements in his upper and lower-body strength would also help him to reach those levels. Heinola’s style is reminiscent of Miro Heiskanen but this is not a comparison based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Thomas Harley that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
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