It’s a natural instinct of human beings to look for patterns and precedents when confronted with a singularity. In the singular case of Miro Heiskanen, there’s a point at which all those comparisons fail.
At this juncture, it’s foolish to argue that Heiskanen isn’t one of the NHL’s best blueliners (which isn’t to say that Buffalo Sabres Twitter won’t give it the old college try). But the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs have made it clear that he also towers above the better-heralded members of his generational cohort, as Sean Shapiro writes in The Athletic:
The 2020 playoffs haven’t been Heiskanen’s coronation as one of the NHL’s top defensemen. That happened gradually over the past two seasons. Instead, it’s simply been a chance for those who weren’t paying attention — and somehow left him off their 2019 Calder Trophy ballots — to marvel at the crown jewel of the next generation of elite defensemen....
His 21 points are second-most of any player left in the bubble, and his overall impact at all situations is greater than the flash-and-dash provided by the highly entertaining Quinn Hughes and Cale Makar, who have now departed Edmonton after their teams were eliminated in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. Shea Theodore is the only defenseman in Heiskanen’s perceived cohort — the so-called young puck movers — who provides an equal overall impact. But Theodore is 25, and 25 really isn’t young by NHL standards anymore — certainly not when compared to what Heiskanen is doing at 21.
Dallas fans often look to their own pole star, Sergei Zubov, when they grasp for the analog that will put Heiskanen in context. But even that measure may not be enough to encompass what the young Finn has done, and is capable of doing, Shapiro asserts:
Heiskanen often reminds me of Scott Niedermeyer. Both read the game better than anyone else and used their immaculate skating to both lead the rush and be the first man back whenever a teammate made a mistake. Niedermeyer is one of the NHL’s all-time greats, and yet even he wasn’t this good at 21. At that point of his career, Niedermeyer was far away from evolving into the superstar he became in his mid-20s.
The gold standard for the 21-year-old defensemen in this era is Erik Karlsson, who won his first Norris Trophy at 22. Heiskanen hasn’t surpassed Karlsson’s regular-season accomplishments for this age, but his playoff performance puts early-career Karlsson’s to shame.
There’s more behind the paywall. [The Athletic DFW]
Rick Bowness has seen and done almost everything during his hockey career. But winning a Stanley Cup would be a first – and a stunning way to crown “the weirdest year of my life.”
"Do we have a chance to win it all? Absolutely, we have a chance."— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) September 8, 2020
In a career that has spanned across five decades, Bones has one more item to check off his to-do list https://t.co/HH4HUKT0bT
Speaking of people who are having extraordinary years...ladies and gentlemen, Anton Khudobin.
➖ Belfour— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) September 7, 2020
Dobby joined some special company in franchise history with his series-opening shutout https://t.co/xYhXxHmsWK
What went right during Round 2? Fancy-stats guru Corey Sznajder examined the data behind Dallas’ ultimate defeat of the Colorado Avalanche. #thread
Time for our first series recaps: Dallas/Colorado. Colorado was able to do their thing & get through the neutral zone, but didn't connect on as many passes as they would have liked. Also got burned by some turnovers & Dallas' forecheck creating some behind the net chances. pic.twitter.com/H6Oy2x73Nz— Corey Sznajder (@ShutdownLine) September 7, 2020
Also, I’ll just leave this here.
DYK? @DallasStars are the first team in NHL history to feature multiple rookies with a hat trick in a playoff year (Joel Kiviranta in #Game7 of R2 & Denis Gurianov in Game 6 of R1). #NHLStats #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/rIUhmv2V6n— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) September 4, 2020
Around The League(s)
Now this is the Tampa Bay Lightning everyone thought would show up in 2019.
Lightning Round: Reactions from Tampa Bay’s 8-2 win over New York #GoBolts https://t.co/MKy1YeuO8h— Raw Charge (@RawCharge) September 8, 2020
The rest of the hockey world is still discovering Dallas’ marvels of the age. First there was Mt. Miro, now there’s the Tower of Denis Gurianov.
Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes were rookie revelations in the regular season, and they lead the freshman power rankings in the post-season, too. But now that they're out, look for others to showcase their talent as first-year wonders.@SamMcCaig22 has more:https://t.co/wOYQs1idyq— The Hockey News (@TheHockeyNews) September 7, 2020
Also at THN: John Klingberg enters the chat and reminds the league to sleep with one eye open (looking at you, Vegas Golden Knights).
Don't forget about John Klingberg: @THNRyanKennedy on Dallas' suddenly unsung defenseman https://t.co/mWco2yV7Qe— The Hockey News (@TheHockeyNews) September 7, 2020
There was no shortage of worthy Masterton Trophy nominees in 2020, Stephen Johns among them. In the end, Bobby Ryan and his fight for sobriety won the day.
“It means a lot to me but I hope it means more to my wife, because she set so much aside to get me here.”— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) September 8, 2020
For @Senators' Bobby Ryan, Monday's 2020 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy win is a "family award."@HockeyScanner on the long road that led him here:https://t.co/ZdiuQYgFYK
Matt Dumba wants to make hockey more welcoming and his Minneapolis community more unified. His work made him this year’s King Clancy Memorial Trophy winner.
"I'm doing it for all the kids that have felt that loneliness and don't know where to go when they've been through this."— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) September 7, 2020
Experiences with racism, and a love of family and community shaped @mnwild Matt Dumba's King Clancy win and push for lasting change. https://t.co/cI5eCsjJta
The Stars watching the Kentucky Derby is the kind of wholesome fun you need today. Enjoy.
Lounge + Kentucky Derby = one heck of a @DallasStars watch party #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/UmNmcbr51v— NHL (@NHL) September 7, 2020