The Winnipeg Jets have signed 2019 first-round draft pick Ville Heinola to a three-year, entry-level contract.
The 18-year-old Finnish defenceman, who was taken 20 th overall in the NHL Draft last month in Vancouver, will make an average annual value of $1,137,500 over his first three years in the league. The cap hit to the team will be $925,000.
A left-shooting blue-liner who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 176 pounds, Heinola played 34 games in the Finnish men’s Liiga last season with Lukko and had two goals and 14 points.
Heinola took part in the Jets development camp last month, but said he didn’t have a good sense of where he would play next season at the time.
With the contract signed, he should take part in Jets training camp in September.
“I hope it’s soon as possible (to play in the NHL),” Heinola said at the draft. “I think the first year no one thinks I could play in Liiga. Maybe next year, I hope it’s next year.”
Heinola has said he patterns his game after fellow Finnish defenceman Miro Heiskanen, who made a huge impact as a rookie with the Dallas Stars last season after being drafted third overall in 2017.
Some scouts have said it’s a fair comparison for a player with good hockey sense, knowledge of the game and the ability to fill gaps on the ice, make good outlet passes and see the ice.
He likely needs some time to get stronger and said after development camp that his goal was to gain strength throughout the rest of the offseason.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019