The Winnipeg Jets just announced the signing of their recent first round selection to a three year entry level contract. Ville Heinola was selected 20th overall by the club just a few weeks ago at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
#NHLJets have agreed to terms with defenceman Ville Heinola on a three-year, entry-level contract with an average annual value of $1,137,500.
Heinola was selected by the Jets in the first round (20th overall) in the 2019 NHL Draft.
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) July 15, 2019
It was a surprising move by the club as most people expected Heinola to stay in Finland for another season where he could build on his success from last season. Although, just because Heinola is signed, doesn’t mean he’s going to be sticking around in North America. In a similar situation last season Kristian Vesalainen decided to move back home and play the rest of the season in the KHL despite being signed to an entry level deal.
Despite being a late round pick, Heinola already has plenty of experience playing against adults. One of the benefits of playing in Europe is being able to jump up to the pro level if needed. Heinola did that last year as a 17 year old and had a remarkable season for an underage player. He had 14 points in only 34 games and finished with the second most points per game among all Liiga defensemen who were under 20 years old.
This strong season in Finland suggests that Heinola might be ready to play in North America as early as next year. He would certainly be able to help the Manitoba Moose roster, and if given a chance, he might be a dark horse candidate to make the Jets roster out of training camp.
Regardless of where Heinola ends up this season, the fact that he signed an entry level contract means that the Jets have fairly high expectations of him going forward. Even if he doesn’t play in North America, signing him is the first step towards getting him on the roster.
It’s important to note that his ELC will slide if he doesn’t play 10 NHL games this year. For now, it doesn’t look like he will play for the Jets, so his three year deal will likely only begin in 2020.
For more reading, check out our draft day post on Heinola’s selection.