After originally trading away their first round selection in the 2019 draft to New York as a part of the Kevin Hayes rental deal, the Jets re-acquired that same selection when they dealt defenceman Jacob Trouba to the Rangers last week, giving them back their 20th overall pick in Vancouver.
Although sitting dormant for the majority of the evening, Jets’ GM Kevin Cheveldayoff made his presence felt, moving around the draft floor from table to table, working the angles on the other 30 NHL team officials and members of the front office. Despite not being able to make a deal for a player or a pick (mainly due to the uncertainty surrounding the 2019-20 salary cap), Chevy was able to calmly stride to the stage at Rogers Place and make his selection, 18-year-old blueliner Ville Heinola.
Projected to go somewhere between 15th and 35th overall, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound defender took the median, going 20th to Winnipeg, in a move that fans are rather excited about. After taking Sami Niku in 2015, Patrik Laine in 2016, Kristian Vesalainen and Santeri Virtanen in 2017 as well as the signing of Joona Luoto last week, the Jets have a healthy batch of up and coming Finnish talent on the roster.
Heinola is an all-round defenceman. He is a smooth skater who moves the puck extremely well, knows when to step into the play, and makes good choices in the offensive zone. The Finn also has a very good slap-shot. Heinola played against top tier men this past season, and fared extremely well, showing his very complete defensive game. He is always in good positioning with his stick, body, and excels at reading the ice for pinches in all three-zones. Heinola will likely never be a flashy top-pairing blueliner, but he has all the makings to be a steady top-four defenseman for years to come in the NHL.
The Finn suited up for 34 games with Lukko of Liiga in 2018-19, racking up two goals, 14 points, 26 penalty minutes and a +7 rating over that span of games. In seven postseason games, Heinola recorded one goal and four points.