Montreal Canadiens: When Will Emil Heineman Finally Make Season Debut?

Winnipeg Jets v Montreal Canadiens
Winnipeg Jets v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens announced that Emil Heineman was being called up, and since he has sat in the press box.

It begs the question, why is he just riding pine, when he could certainly be a big addition to the Habs offence? He could stand to improve his defensive game, and his play away from the puck, but it’s hard to assess a player if he isn’t playing. Surely he is chomping at the bit to get into the lineup, and I think he deserves that chance.

The real problem is that the lines are all playing well, and Heineman’s tools elevate him to the top nine. He can play physically but is much more adverse to playing a speed, finesse game, and he is far too talented to be buried on the fourth line. Ideally, he could slot right onto the second powerplay unit, and serve as a one-timer option on his off wing. 

It’s a little bit weird to call him up and make him sit in a suit every night while the rest of his teammates get to play. Heineman is only 22 years old and has just 18 games of American Hockey League experience under his belt. I’m not a betting man, but if I were, I would suspect that he hasn’t seen Heineman scratch the surface of his potential. 

The organization has made a lot of wise decisions, but I think they need to work Heineman into the lineup. Give him a couple of games, and worst-case scenario, he isn’t ready. Send him down to Laval and let an AHL veteran sit, the future needs to be playing. So Heineman should take priority over Joel Armia or even Michael Pezzetta. 

One thing is clear, Heineman can shoot the puck on a dime and is very good from the opponent's blueline in. He uses feints and quick dekes to find openings. And when he finds space he devastates the defender. 

An increase in reps could allow Heineman to grow his playmaking game. And if he is working with Adam Nicholas, he would benefit from actual game time. Rather than just practicing, although I understand the benefits of him learning the ropes of the NHL from being around the team, he needs to play. 

Heineman could be a dark horse top-nine option, with the potential to play in the top six. Right now, he seems more likely to be destined for a bottom-six role. That all could change, but he needs a fair chance to show his capabilities. 

Marty, give Emil a nice Christmas game, his NHL debut. Signed, Habs fans.