The Dallas Stars were extremely lucky when they selected Miro Heiskanen in the 2017 NHL draft.
Landing the coveted third pick overall, right behind Nico Hischier (New Jersey Devils) and Nolan Patrick (Philadelphia Flyers), Miro has become one of the key defensive assets to the Stars in just two seasons of being on the roster. With the Stars one game into their Round Robin series of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, it is no surprise that they will be turning toward Heiskanen for consistent offensive defending.
Miro has a calm, humble attitude about himself, the running joke among his teammates and fans being that he only answers questions with the catchphrase, “pretty good.” He gives the perception that he’s a fairly quiet, easy-going guy and often spends his time with the other Finnish players on the roster.
His teammates offer praise for the young defenseman frequently.
Tyler Seguin noted that fans are only scratching the surface when it comes to seeing Heiskanen’s skills and Roope Hintz arguing that while Miro was extremely well last season, he only is going to keep getting better.
It was clear from his rookie season that Heiskanen was a captivating player to watch, fans often buzzing about how excited they are to watch him develop as his career continues.
In that first season (2018-2019) he managed to earn himself a spot representing the Stars at the 2019 All-Star Game in San Jose, finished 4th in voting for the Calder Memorial Trophy, and ended the year with 12 goals and 21 assists for a combined total of 33 points.
In the offseason, he practices almost every day on ice and off-ice, putting in the work to maintain his agility while not being in the chaos of the regular 82 game NHL season.
Heiskanen became the young defenseman to watch in the 2019-2020 season, commentators often marveling at his ability to read plays and compliment his impressive skating. He is one of the fastest and masterly skaters on the team, rarely tripping himself up on the ice. Tyler Mair of Defending Big D noted that Heiskanen’s career is on the trajectory of the likes of Drew Doughty, another well-known top three overall draft pick defenseman.
The Stars took note too, interim head coach Rick Bowness commenting that Heiskanen’s natural instincts for the game make him a pleasure to watch, noting that as time goes on he only improves. He is so highly regarded that it can be easy to forget he is only 21 years old and has a lot of time left in his career.
Miro averaged about 23 minutes of ice time per game during the regular 2019-2020 season, putting him right on track with the top defensive pairing for the Stars, John Klingberg, and Esa Lindell, who average 23 and 22 minutes per game respectively. While the Stars are fortunate to have an extremely solid grouping of defenseman, it is reasonable to acknowledge the significance of Miro’s playing time considering it is only his sophomore season in the NHL. He also isn’t afraid to take shots, recording 345 in his career so far, something that the Stars encourage for their defensemen.
The Stars seem to be taking note of his abilities already this postseason, attempting to maximize his skills by rotating him from being partnered with Jamie Oleksiak and Stephen Johns. He is able to adjust quickly to plays, inserting himself into situations to break up plays when needed and help regain puck possession. Pairing Heiskanen with a more physical defenseman seems to compliment him well. Defensemen like Stephen Johns can take the lead in hits while Miro sweeps in to regain possession of the puck, it’s a system that is effective for the Stars defense.
The best thing that Miro Heiskanen has is something that the Stars find themselves desperately needing during the postseason, consistency.
Even during games where things do not end favorably for the Stars, Miro routinely is a valuable presence on the ice. Despite the postseason just starting, Miro has already shown himself as an emerging offensive defenseman for the Stars. In the first round-robin game against the Vegas Golden Knights, he acquired an assist on all three goals scored in the game. Even though the Stars seemed to lose their footing in the third period, leading to a 5-3 loss, Miro was noted as the third star of the game to commemorate his impact for the team.
With the next round-robin game set for this afternoon (6:30pm EST) against the Colorado Avalanche, it will be interesting to see how the Stars capitalize on Miro Heiskanen. The Avalanche also have a young star defenseman to watch out for, Calder nominee Cale Makar, who is often compared to the likes of Erik Karlsson (San Jose Sharks) and known for his speed on the ice.
If the last game is any indication, Miro Heiskanen will be a force to watch on the ice.
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