Emil Heineman is the newest member of the Calgary Flames’ prospect pool. He has yet to play a game for a North American club, having played in Sweden his entire career thus far. Heineman is eligible to play in Stockton next season, but will likely stay in the SHL and play for his hometown club, Leksands IF.
Let’s take a closer look at the 14th ranked Flames prospect.
Heineman’s on-ice results
The Flames acquired Heineman via trade when they sent Sam Bennett to the Florida Panthers at this year’s trade deadline. Heineman was drafted by Florida in the second round, 43rd overall and was one of the highest risers heading into the draft.
After an underwhelming 2018–19 season that saw him put up just five points in 27 games in the SuperElit, Heineman exploded in 2019–20. He amassed an incredible 26 goals and 41 points in 29 games, and earned himself a promotion to Sweden’s top men’s league: the SHL.
While he didn’t turn any heads during his time there, Heineman still managed to put up two assists in 11 games, and was only a minus-2 (don’t read too much into plus/minus, though). This past season, he played almost exclusively for Leksands in the SHL, putting up seven goals and 13 points in 43 games.
This was good for eighth among U-20 skaters in the SHL. Nothing special, but pretty impressive considering his expectations just a year prior.
Heineman is unsigned, but is eligible to sign an entry-level deal with the Flames at any time. The team will likely wait until they know they can bring Heineman to North America. There’s no rush.
Heineman’s strengths and weaknesses
For a second-round pick, Heineman boasts a large arsenal of offensive tools that the Flames are no doubt excited to have in their system. The first things scouts talk about when discussing Heineman is his shot and his relentlessness. Whether it’s on the forehand or the backhand, Heineman has a heavy, accurate wrister that helped him light up the SuperElit in his draft year. He never gives up on a play and hounds the puck like nobody’s business.
Here’s Heineman winning a race and burying a shorty at the WJC last year:
What really sets Heineman apart from his peers, and probably the reason for his meteoric ascent up the draft boards in 2020, is his borderline elite hockey IQ. Alex Taxman of FutureScope Hockey said, “it looks like he’s 2–3 years older and more developed than every other player on the ice. He thinks the game at an extremely high level, often 5–6 seconds ahead of the play.” Heineman seems to always be in the right place at the right time, and this is something that will help him at all levels.
Despite not ever playing for a North American club, Heineman already plays a North American style, and should fit in seamlessly when he does eventually come over and suit up for the Stockton Heat.
Smaht Scouting had this to say about Heineman before the start of the 2020–21 season:
Heineman already plays a North American style. It is one thing that jumps out right away. He relishes getting into the danger areas around the slot and net, and has a real knack for finding space with no defensemen near either on the rush or on the cycle. His two-way game is also well-developed, and his relentless puck pursuit, diligence in his own zone, and ability on the boards are things all NHL scouts love to see.
He is also well developed both athletically and physically. His skating is powerful and refined in all aspects. Not only does he have great edges, but a good burst and fantastic lower-body strength. It is not unusual to see him protect the puck at speed, accelerate away from defensemen, and watch attempted hits bounce of him all in the same shift. Heineman is also not afraid to get involved physically, and will throw a good hit when he sees the need to, as well as get scrappy with defenses when battling for position.Josh Tessler, Smaht Scouting
On defense, Heineman is extremely reliable and even played penalty kill minutes this season. Like many Swedes, Heineman is a good player in both ends of the ice, but has great offensive upside that makes him a strong candidate to be a middle-sixer in the NHL for a long time.
In terms of areas of improvement, Heineman plays a style of game that generally requires a bigger frame in North America. Of course, this is a generalization, and if he takes after players like Andrew Mangiapane, he’ll be fine. Still, a few extra pounds won’t hurt when he comes overseas to play in the AHL.
As well, Heineman is not a prolific playmaker by any means. He largely uses his tenacity and drive to work the puck in the cycle and win battles along the boards. He relies on his shot, which is fine, but one thing Heineman is not is a creative playmaker. To succeed at the NHL level, it would serve him well to work on identifying passing lanes a bit better.
Looking forward at what’s next for Heineman
We won’t know too much about Heineman’s NHL outlook until he comes overseas and plays games for the Heat. That could come as early as next season, but it will likely be another year before he makes the move. This report from Alex Taxman of Future Scope Hockey highlights exactly why Flames fans should be excited about Heineman. His great speed, elite shot, and excellent vision make him a prime candidate for continued growth, and it’ll be fascinating to see how he progresses in a hopefully normal season in the SHL.
Heineman wasn’t a known quantity until very recently, which is why he’s showing up way down at #14 on our prospect rankings this year. Give it another season, and Heineman should climb these rankings just like he did the draft rankings in 2020. Bennett has done well in Florida thus far, but Heineman is a solid addition to the Flames prospect pool and will continue to impress as he gets more experience in the world’s top leagues.
Featured image created with Venngage.