Dallas Stars' Finnish defender Miro Heiskanen, 21, has managed to become one of his team's key players despite his young age.
Heiskanen ended his last season with great playoffs, where the third reservation of the spring 2017 draft hit 27 + 6 = 20 matches in 27 matches and led the Stars all the way to the Stanley Cup finals.
A recent article in the prestigious sports media The Athletic is already considering whether Heiskanen should even be given the Norris Trophy to win the NHL’s best defender.
No Finn has yet won the award.
Heiskanen’s potential had been assessed by six NHL stars who had won the Best Defender award at least once: Nicklas Lidström, Erik Karlsson, PK Subban, Victor Hedman, Roman Josi and Scott Niedermayer.
Hard-level colleagues don’t spare their praise when describing Honka as a player.
One feature is repeated in each respondent’s assessment: the young man’s eye-catching easy-looking skating delights everyone.
- His skating is phenomenal.
He makes the game look really easy with his skating and moving.
He was one of the best skaters in the league at the age of 19, and he’s fun to follow, New Jersey Devils pack star PK Subban said.
Viktor Hedman of Tampa Bay Lightning got to see Heiskanen’s skills up close when the teams met in the Stanley Cup finals in September.
- Before the final series, we focused a lot on Miro and tried to come up with a way to destabilize him.
He is able to skate out of bad places and is really dynamic.
Such a player is hard to resist, Hedman estimates.
Erik Karlsson of San Jose Sharks also pointed out that in addition to technical skill, the Finnish Game Intelligence is also top-class, and at least as important a part of the top player's skill set.
Read more: Podcast: NHL star Miro Heiskanen has just scratched the surface - the skill coach reveals how to grind a young diamond
As for the Norris Trophy, the constellation reminded that choosing the best from the best is always the sum of many factors, and the competition is fierce from year to year.
Nevertheless, Heiskanen has every opportunity to one day make Finnish disc history.
- I played against him in the 2019 playoffs and got to see what level he can reach.
He’s on his way to winning the Norris Trophy, there’s no doubt about that.
He has that potential, everything just has to hit the right place, Subban said.
Dallas Stars and Heiskanen did not get to start the new season as planned.
The Stars team was diagnosed with 17 corona infections during the training season.
Stars get to open their season with these prospects finally on Friday as it encounters the Nashville Predators at their home field.