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At the moment, many are tentatively pencilling in Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Jesse Ylonen as the likeliest prospects to break camp with Montreal.  However, Emil Heineman could play his way into the mix, making him one to keep an eye on when camp opens up later this month.

I’m not just saying this because he stated to TVA Sports last month that he thinks he has what it takes to carve out a full-time spot with Montreal.  For what this roster needs, Heineman is the type of player that can fill some of the gaps.

Heineman got into three preseason games with the Habs last year and didn’t look out of place.  Unfortunately for him, a thumb injury suffered in early October ended any chance he might have had of making the roster while it also delayed the start to his SHL campaign.

Last season with Leksand, Heineman did okay but didn’t exactly light it up by any stretch, recording eight goals and seven assists in 35 games while averaging over 15 minutes a night.  It wasn’t a bad performance but I think it would be fair to say that he didn’t quite live up to expectations.

Things changed when he came to Laval late in the season once his SHL campaign came to an end.  With the Rocket dealing with a depleted roster due to recalls and injuries of their own, Heineman was placed in an important role right away and made the most of it, scoring seven goals in 11 games to help the Rocket get to the play-in round.

While we’re dealing with a small sample size, it’s worth noting that he was shooting at a much higher rate with the Rocket.  In Sweden, he was averaging 1.77 shots per game.  In Laval, that jumped to 3.64 shots per game.  In the interview linked above, Heineman said that he feels the smaller rink in North America better suits his game.  Does that mean he’s going to fire at that rate regularly now?  Certainly not, 3.64 is going to be hard to replicate over a full season even if he was on the top line with the Rocket for all of the upcoming year.

One of the issues that the Habs ran into last season was not getting much firepower from their bottom six.  This is where he can help fill a void.  If his presence on a fourth line allows the Canadiens to play a bit more in the offensive zone, that’s a plus.  At 6’1, he also is a bit bigger than Harvey-Pinard and Ylonen; it’s not as if Montreal has a particularly tall forward group.

Do these attributes alone give Heineman the edge?  Not really.  But they do give him a legitimate chance to make a run for a roster spot with the Habs in training camp or, failing that, at least position himself to be an early recall.  That means Heineman an intriguing prospect to watch for in the coming weeks.