Emil Heineman Deserves His Shot With Canadiens

Heineman's blend of physical play and a heavy shot make him an intriguing top nine option for the Canadiens.
New York Rangers v Montreal Canadiens
New York Rangers v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens biggest issue is there goalscoring depth and lack of top end talent.

Emil Heineman not being in the Canadiens lineup remains a bit of a chin-scratcher. His American Hockey League production hasn't translated to the National Hockey League, but he has barely had a sniff. This is very curious, considering guys like Joel Armia, Jesse Ylonen and Michael Pezzetta get regular minutes and none of them can shoot the puck like Heineman.

Armia and Pezzetta have developed into what they will ultimately be, and although Ylonen has been given time, he hasn't done much with it. Since Heineman arrived in North America, all he has done is score goals. Not just any goals, but goals where he overwhelmed the goalie from all over the attacking zone.

Heineman's four seasons of development in the Swedish Hockey League have proven beneficial for his 200-foot game. While Ylonen's two-way game has taken steady strides, he appears nervous to attack in the offensive zone. Heineman, however, remains offence-focused, using his body to win battles and his shot when given space.

The top line has all shown the capability to beat NHL goalies, and Joshua Roy has an NHL shot, but the lack of scoring depth has hurt the Habs. It feels like Heineman is on the cusp of leapfrogging some current Canadiens players. If he would be given a bigger chance to show what he can do in the NHL this year, he might stick.

With that said, the NHL management knows best and for that reason, Heineman remains down with the struggling Laval Rocket. But I think he could make a solid argument out of camp next year for a top-nine role with the Canadiens. His willingness to play the body and use his large frame to protect the puck will serve him well, and his big shot should earn him a look on the second powerplay unit.

His skating ability comes from playing on the larger European ice, and he has adapted seamlessly to the smaller space in the AHL. His seven goals in 11 games to begin his time in the Canadiens system were a sign of what was to come. This season he has missed time due to injury, but through the 29 games he has played; Heineman has scored 11 goals.

On pace for a 20-goal season, after failing to record more than 11 goals since his 26-goal season in 2019-20; the Canadiens should take full advantage of his rise in goals. Alongside a good passer/set-up man in the NHL, Heineman could be a perennial 20-25 goalscorer at minimum. The 22-year-old still has about three years until he hits his prime, and with increased confidence, he could become a potential top-six winger.

Anybody who can put the puck through small spaces with such high velocity, and has a well-rounded game is worth a shot.