Happy Dallas Stars game day! The new season brings so much to look forward to, not the least of which is a daily dose of Miro Heiskanen highlights.
Miro Heiskanen was back on the ice today. Footage via the Stars. pic.twitter.com/gnS1aLxl40— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) January 17, 2021
But as nice as it is to glory in Heiskanen’s Stars status, many fans would prefer it if their 21-year-old blueline phenom got more love from the NHL’s arbiters of quality. Could that wider recognition come this season?
Saad Yousuf has posted the second installment of a two-part series examining how Miro proceeds to the next level for an elite defender – the Norris Trophy:
Through two seasons, Heiskanen’s game has been as consistent as his words. He arrived in the league as a 19-year-old phenom in 2018 and now enters his third NHL season as a 21-year-old superstar. While the numbers alone don’t tell the whole story, he’s scored 68 points in 150 games to go along with his defensive play, all before he was old enough to buy an alcoholic beverage in the United States. Of course, there is also the record-breaking 2020 playoff run, in which his measured defense and electric offense were simultaneously on display. His 26 points scored in 27 games were the most by a defenseman in the 21st century and fourth-most all-time behind Hall of Famers and Norris Trophy winners Paul Coffey, Brian Leetch and Al MacInnis.
That’s the kind of company Heiskanen is keeping nowadays. Now, the question is when he’ll formally ascend to the apex of his position. He made his first little dent in the Norris Trophy voting ballots last season before exploding in the playoffs on the biggest stage. According to BetOnline, Heiskanen entered the 2021 season with 12-to-1 odds to win the Norris Trophy, tied for fifth-best in the NHL. And he’s not shy about saying he’d like to win it.
Yousuf runs down the factors Heiskanen will need to maximize to get there – from point production (trending in the right direction, but not quite there) to visibility (how many reporters told Rick Bowness they should have voted for Heiskanen in the 2019 Calder Trophy race, and will they go on the record?). But former Norris winners, and indeed his current teammates, believe it’s only a matter of time:
“He’s just such a fluid skater and he makes plays that go under the radar, too,” says Jamie Oleksiak, Heiskanen’s defensive partner. “He doesn’t have to make that flashy play to be effective in the game. He’s got a great stick, (and) he makes great reads in the defensive zone. It can’t be said enough just how cool and calm he is and how easy he makes things look. You look at a lot of Norris guys, and I think that’s a big thing you notice with a lot of them.”...
Heiskanen was doing those things as a 19-year-old rookie. For a deeper look, you can read Sean Shapiro’s film room piece from early in Heiskanen’s rookie season. We’ve seen this become a consistent part of his game over the past two seasons in addition to the more obvious highlights of goals and assists.
There’s much more, including video, behind the paywall. [The Athletic DFW]
Going to the game? Make sure you’re ready.
The Stars’ season starts tonight, and they are probably even more stoked than you are.
Owen Newkirk posted a few updates from Thursday practice.
• Defenseman Julius Honka cleared waivers today, so the Stars are free to send him to the Taxi Squad or the AHL if they desire.— Owen Newkirk (@OwenNewkirk) January 21, 2021
• Joe Pavelski emphasized that, due to the shortened 56-game schedule, the team needs to get to a pretty high level of play very quickly.
Around The Leagues
#Murder Was The Case
- Brayden Point came in with the overtime game-winner as the Tampa Bay Lightning pulled out a close one against the Columbus Blue Jackets, 3-2. [Raw Charge]
- And, just as a reminder, the Carolina Hurricanes – Florida Panthers game previously scheduled for last night was postponed for public health reasons. [TSN]
The rift between Jackets forward Pierre-Luc Dubois and head coach John Tortorella continues to widen, but at least Torts can explain his decisions.
The Athletic: An Untenable Situation | Pierre-Luc Dubois benched by coach John Tortorella for final two-plus periods of #CBJ 3-2 OT loss to #TBLightning.— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) January 22, 2021
Hopes that Dubois trade request wouldn’t disrupt season evaporates in season’s fifth game.https://t.co/uwoT3AyErX pic.twitter.com/nQbDHiamnm
The Canes are set to return to action on Tuesday, January 26. Will they be ready?
The Hurricanes hope to reopen their training facilities soon and resume playing next week, after their facilities were closed and games postponed because of COVID-19. https://t.co/BsHNJfoSUi— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) January 21, 2021
From his new national beat, Sean Shapiro examines the Sinclair Broadcast Group’s war on regional sports networks, and what it’s done to hockey fans.
Fights between television providers and regional sports networks aren’t a new thing, but the COVID-19 pandemic has escalated the battle between the Sinclair-owned stations and providers. And for now, there aren’t many great answers for chord-cutting fans https://t.co/FPpJxw0ZXz— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) January 22, 2021
Two grieving men, both broken by the Humboldt Broncos tragedy, found a moment of catharsis together.
Scott Thomas lost his son in the greatest tragedy in the history of Canadian sports. Three years later, he's advocating for the man who drove the truck that killed his son to remain in Canada.@THNKenCampbell reports: https://t.co/yVkpN27T7r— The Hockey News (@TheHockeyNews) January 22, 2021
Watch this total dad move by Ben Bishop and reflect upon his teammates’ responses. Enjoy.