MONTREAL — With several high-end prospects attending the Montreal Canadiens training camp, you could excuse a relatively quiet outing from a player like Emil Heineman.
But even with fan-favourites like Juraj Slafkovsky, Filip Mesar, and Owen Beck absorbing the bulk of the attention, Heineman has managed to step into the spotlight as one of the most interesting young forwards on the roster.
And he’s gained that attention by proving he’s more than an NHL-calibre shot on a pair of skates, though, it’s fair to say his shot remains his greatest asset.
“It’s something I’ve worked on ever since I was a small kid,” said Heineman. “And I love to shoot. It’s really fun. It’s fun to score, too.”
Heineman has a heavy shot, which is guided by a fantastic release, one that can often lull goaltenders into a false sense of confidence. Combined with elite accuracy, Heineman certainly fits the profile of a sniper.
Emil Heineman opens the scoring in Buffalo!
— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) September 15, 2022
If NHL teams handed out roster spots based solely on a player’s performance at camp, Heineman would certainly be on his way to earning a spot in the lineup.
He’s shown great offensive instinct while also minding the coverage in his zone, the type of showing that leads to a significant amount of trust from head coaches. He’s also dispelled the notion that he’s a poor skater.
“We’re trying to build something that is going to bring continued success,” said Martin St.Louis. “From what we see from him, we see a guy that could be part of that.”
Heineman hasn’t just been one of the best players in the past two preseason games, he’s been far and away the most dominant forward on the Canadiens roster from a statistical point of view.
With Heineman on the ice, the Canadiens have managed to control 69 percent of the shots, 86 percent of the scoring chances, and 70 percent of the expected goals. It comes as little surprise he’s leading all of his teammates in the aforementioned statistical categories.
He’s also shown he can be a weapon in the shootout, scoring on almost every single opportunity he’s had during scrimmages or intrasquad games, which could go a long way in convincing management he’s worth an extra win or two if he’s given the chance to play in the NHL.
QUEL BUT de Emil Heineman en tirs de barrage 🏒
— Rocket de Laval (@RocketLaval) July 13, 2022
“I’ve learned a lot this summer,” said Heineman. “All the way from development camp, from being here this spring, working with Adam [Adam Nicholas”]. I’ve learned to have my head on a swivel, to constantly read the play. It’s a different game out here. You have to adapt. You have to learn. This summer has been really good for me.”
All signs point to Heineman returning to Europe following the conclusion of training camp, but if he keeps playing a smart, defensively responsible game, the prospect with the second-best shot in the organization may force Kent Hughes to re-evaluate his long-term plans.