NHL Mock Draft 2019: No.27 — Ville Heinola

Updated: June 20, 2019 at 12:28 pm by Brock Seguin

The Tampa Bay Lightning are coming off of a historic 62-win season but were shocked by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of that playoffs.

As a result, they have the No.27 overall pick instead of the No.31 pick, which almost everyone was expecting. The Lightning have done a sensational job drafting over the years but head into the 2019 Draft without Steve Yzerman behind the wheel. That shouldn’t matter too much and as well as Tampa Bay has drafted in previous years, their prospect pool needs some big additions.

Their blueline is set for now and their top prospect, Cal Foote, has a lot of potential but there isn’t a lot behind him. Foote, who is the son of former Colorado Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote, has exceptional size (6-foot-4, 220 lbs.) and two-way ability. In his first AHL season, he had 10 goals and 21 assists (31 points) in 76 games. He will likely see another year in the AHL before replacing a player like Braydon Coburn or Jan Rutta in Tampa Bay. Up front they have:

  • Taylor Raddysh (No.58 Pick in 2016): The 21-year-old also has excellent size (6-foot-3, 216 lbs.) who transitioned well into the AHL, scoring 18 goals with 28 assists (46 points) in 70 games.
  • —  Boris Katchouk (No.44 in 2016): Another 21-year-old with good size (6-foot-2, 198 lbs) who didn’t transition to the AHL quite as well as Raddysh. Katchouk had 11 goals and 12 assists (23 points) in 75 games with Syracuse.
  • Alexander Volkov (No.48 Pick in 2017): Another second-round forward over 6-foot who has scored 23 goals in back-to-back AHL seasons.
  • Mitchell Stephens (No.33 Pick in 2015): Stephens played very well in his first AHL season but ran into injury issues this year. In 32 games, Stephens scored 11 goals with 13 assists (24 points). He has now posted 0.64 points-per-game in 102 AHL games.

With the No.27 Overall Pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, the Tampa Bay Lightning select…

Ville Heinola — D — Finland 🇫🇮

This would be a big change for the Lightning. They have selected a player from the CHL with their first pick in nine straight drafts. The last time they used their first pick on a European was when they selected Victor Hedman with the No.2 overall pick in 2009.

However, if Heinola drops to them at No.27, it would be very difficult to envision them passing on him. They have Foote, who will be a great two-way defenseman and Heinola gives them a smaller, more offensive-minded defenseman.

The 5-foot-11, 181 lbs. blueliner started the season in the Finnish U20 league, collecting nine points (1G / 8A) in nine games. He was quickly promoted to the Finnish Elite League, where he had 14 points (2G / 12A) in 34 games against men. Heinola appeared in both the U18 and U20 World Juniors, he had one goal and one assist with team Finland at the U20 World Juniors. The 18-year-old left-handed shot still has some room to improve on the defensive side but he has excellent offensive abilities. Heinola plays a mature game. Always calm with the puck and makes smart outlet decisions.

The Lightning’s blueline of the future could look like:

  • Hedman — Foote
  • Sergachev — McDonagh
  • Heinola — Cernak

… if Heinola falls, obviously. But that is an impressive looking blueline, although Hedman would be 30/31 and McDonagh would be 32/33.

Scouting Report

His hockey sense drives his value. Heinola is a calm, poised puck-moving defenseman who generates clean exits and entries with his vision, and makes plays on the man advantage. He’s fine defensively due to his positional play, despite not being the biggest defender. However, he has limitations that may hinder him as he progresses. His size is obvious but his skating is also a minor concern. His stride breaks down when he gets going in a straight line, which is worrisome in a 5-foot-11 defender. — Corey Pronman (The Athletic)