Forward Tyler Heinonen of the ECHL Kalamazoo Wings has been loaned to the San Jose Barracuda, with further details forthcoming, as confirmed by Kalamazoo Wings Public Relations. Because Heinonen is currently on an ECHL contract with the Wings, he will likely be on a PTO with the Barracuda.
The 24-year-old winger is in his first year playing professionally. Though Heinonen is a Delano, Minnesota native, he’s no stranger to Michigan Hockey. He played with the Muskegon Lumberjacks in their second and third seasons as part of the USHL, from 2011-13. He then went on to play Division I NCAA hockey with Michigan Tech, completing four years. In 122 games with the Huskies, he totaled 66 points (38 goals, 28 assists) and was part of the WCHA Championship winning team in his senior year. During his his break-out junior year, he was also one of 18 nominees for the Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation after he created a summer program for youth hockey in Houghton, coaching over 150 kids in 2016.
At the tail end of his senior year, he signed with the Kalamazoo Wings and played five regular season games plus one playoff game, scoring three points during the regular season.
Now in his official rookie year, Heinonen has been on fire for the Wings, posting 22 points (split evenly among goals and assists) over 30 appearances. Though the Tyler-Taylor-Tyler line (consisting of Heinonen, former Washington Capitals’ prospect Justin Taylor, and former Maple Leafs’ prospect Tyler Biggs) has been massively successful, Heinonen has become a player that is trusted to slot anywhere into the line up and elevate the play of the line he is on. His speed and hockey IQ combine for a scoring touch that allows him to handle big minutes — a necessity, as the ECHL only runs three forward lines.
Heinonen is capable of bringing an offensive edge to the Barracuda, who are struggling coming off an incredible run last year. They now sit seventh in the Pacific with a 20-17-1-2 record. Their top line is without the services of both Marcus Sorensen and Danny O’Regan, who are currently with the Sharks due to the injury to Joe Thornton. Additionally, they will be without captain John McCarthy, as he will arrive in PyeongChang for the Olympics on February 8.
Heinonen stands at 6-foot even and 200 pounds and went undrafted. He’s made quite an impression professionally already and will look to continue that with the Barracuda. If he sticks around once O’Regan and Sorensen return, there’s no reason he couldn’t slot onto their wing and make for a stacked top line.