Heinen to make NHL debut

DHeinen-proDanton Heinen will suit up on right wing Thursday night for the Boston Bruins and in so doing will become the first product of the Bauer BCHL Showcase to make his debut in the NHL.

Heinen, a 21-year-old native of Langley, will be on the Bruins second line for tonight’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He’ll have David Krejci centering Ryan Spooner and himself. The second-line job opened up as David Backes was elevated to first-line center because Patrice Bergeron is out with injury.

“I’m super excited,” Heinen told NHL.com. “It’ something you’ve been dreaming my whole life to be playing in an NHL game. There’s two great players I’m playing with; just get them the puck and play hard.”

At the 2013 Bauer BCHL Showcase, Heinen was actually held scoreless in two games and he had just five points in his first 13 games that year. By the end of the 2013-14 season, his lone campaign in the BCHL, Heinen would be the Surrey Eagles leading scorer with 29 goals and 33 assists for 62 points in 57 games playing for head coach Peter Schaefer. He took over the team’s captaincy duties after the January roster deadline saw Brett Mulcahy moved to the Vernon Vipers. Heinen was named to the BCHL all-rookie team and took home the Bruce Allison Memorial Trophy as BCHL rookie of the year.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound forward is actually a year ahead of the pack of Bauer BCHL Showcase participants as the first Showcase was in 2012. Members of that original Showcase class on the cusp of the NHL are Penticton Vees alum Troy Stecher, Eagles product Devon Toews and Vernon Vipers and Surrey Eagles alum Adam Tambellini. Stecher will start the season with the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Utica Comets, Toews will be with the AHL Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Tambellini will be with AHL Hartford.

Heinen was never listed by NHL Central Scouting during the 2013-14 season before being selected by the Bruins in the fourth round of the NHL Entry Draft. He’s since proven the Bruins’ scouting department correct in their assessment of him. He led the University of Denver in scoring as a freshman in 2014-15 and was named the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) rookie of the year. He signed with the Bruins in April after again leading the Pioneers in scoring as a sophomore.

(New York Islanders rookie Matthew Barzal also played in the 2012 Showcase, but went on to play just six BCHL games as a 15-year-old affiliate that season with the Coquitlam Express).