Langley’s Danton Heinen is another step closer to his ultimate dream.
Heinen signed a three-year entry level contract with the Boston Bruins on Monday, foregoing his final two years of college eligibility with the University of Denver.
“When you are given an opportunity like that, it is tough to turn it down,” he told the Times by phone on Monday night.
“I don’t know if it has sunk in yet, but it is pretty exciting.”
Heinen, who turns 21 in July, was scheduled to fly to Providence to join Boston’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Providence Bruins. He will play with the AHL club for the remainder of the season on an amateur tryout.
Providence has three games remaining in the regular season and the team has qualified for the AHL Calder Cup playoffs.
“I am just going to go there, do whatever they ask of me, work hard and see what happens,” he said. “The main goal is to play in the NHL so this is just a stepping stone.”
He made the decision after consulting with his family and it was not an easy one to make.
“I have loved every second in Denver, it has been a blast. Love all my teammates, coaches, they have been awesome. It has been a fun two years,” he said.
“It was definitely difficult because you create a lot of relationships, meet a lot of people. But you have to make the best decision for your career.”
Heinen grew up in Langley, playing his minor hockey here and graduating from Langley Christian.
He played junior B with the Richmond Sockeyes — winning a league championship — and then played one season of junior A with the Surrey Eagles. He captained Surrey as an 18-year-old rookie and led the team in scoring. Heinen won both the BCHL’s rookie of the year and most sportsmanlike player awards.
And the summer before his freshman season with Denver, the Bruins selected Heinen in the fourth round of the 2014 NHL entry draft.
He led the Pioneers in scoring both seasons in Denver, including winning the NCHC conference scoring title and rookie of the year his freshman year with 16 goals and 45 points in 40 games.
His numbers jumped his sophomore campaign with 20 goals and 48 points in 41 games in helping the Pioneers reach the NCAA Frozen Four semifinals before losing to the eventual champions from North Dakota.
“We’re very excited for Danton to be signing with Boston — it’s a great achievement and everyone in our program celebrates the accomplishment with him,” said Denver coach Jim Montgomery on the Pioneers website.
“The accolades he’s accrued and the (statistical) numbers he’s produced during his time at Denver speak volumes about his talent as a hockey player, but the things that don’t show up on a score sheet — his tremendous character, work ethic and dedication to his teammates — are truly immeasurable and that’s what makes him such a special young man.”