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End of 2023-24 season Manitoba Moose media availability | Ville Heinola

We caught up with the Jets 2019 1st rounder.

Recap of the 2023-24 season for Ville Heinola:

It was an incredibly frustrating 2023-24 season for 2019 1st rounder Ville Heinola who looked like he had made the Jets out of training camp but suffered a lower-body injury in the last pre-season game. That injury turned out to be a fractured ankle which would require surgery. It was really tough news given head coach Rick Bowness later said Heinola would have made the Jets out of camp.

Following successful ankle surgery in early October, Heinola returned to Finland where he recovered with family. As he progressed he returned to Winnipeg to be with the team. He was seen on a team road trip at the start of November to Vegas and thereafter around the rink although he wouldn’t return to the ice until early December. Just over a week later he was skating alongside fellow Finn Rasmus Kupari as the two rehabbed together which included some light contact.

About a month later GM Kevin Cheveldayoff indicated that Heinola had been cleared to return which would begin with the Moose in the AHL. Good timing for Manitoba as when he played his first game on January 13th they were mired in a six-game losing streak. That streak would hit 11 games (0-10-1) which saw the club sink to last place in the AHL before they went on a remarkable run which included them clinching a playoff spot.

In total Heinola played 41 games in the AHL this season scoring 10 goals (career high) while adding 17 assists for 27 points. His most memorable night of the season had to be the second last game in Texas where Manitoba romped to a big 8-3 win with Heinola having a five point night (1G 4A).

He is an RFA this summer and will need a new contract. It will be an interesting offseason for him as he loses his waiver exemption for the 2024-25 season which means he will likely get his NHL shot, whether it is in Winnipeg or with one of the other 31 teams in the NHL.

We caught up with him to reflect on the injury, working his way back to full health, the frustration of the season, playing with the Moose, focus on the NHL, his focus this summer, his NHL shot next season and more.

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