Dallas Stars Daily Links: Anticipating Miro Heiskanen’s Next Contract

He performs like a superstar at a cap hit just above league minimum. Can the Stars pay him what he’s worth? Plus, a new era for Trevor Daley, a 2020 problem for hockey’s junior leagues, and more.

Dallas Stars fans know a great deal about Miro Heiskanen’s value to a team that plans to win it all. And ever since the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, the rest of the NHL has been forced to reckon with the force of nature he has become in two short years with the big team.

With the last year of his entry-level contract approaching, it’s no secret that Miro is going to get paid. That, like Heiskanen himself, is as inevitable as the tide. The big questions remaining are a) how much, and b) what percentage of the cap space his new salary will represent.

And it’s also a question of how, and how soon, Heiskanen’s new deal will affect what the Stars have available to shore up the rest of their squad. The Dallas Morning News’ Matthew DeFranks took a look at some of the signal deals for RFA defenders, from Matt Dumba to Thomas Chabot, over the past five years:

While Heiskanen posted 35 points last year, he also carries more of a load defensively against the other team’s best players and is one of the Stars’ top penalty-killers. Add in his postseason performance as the Stars reached the Stanley Cup Final — 26 points in 27 games as a bona fide Conn Smythe candidate — and Heiskanen’s value is likely higher than Chabot’s $8 million AAV.

In the last 10 years, only one RFA defenseman has signed a contract with an AAV higher than $8 million: P.K. Subban’s eight-year contract with Montreal that paid him $9 million annually but was also signed when he was 25 years old.

Of course, re-signing Heiskanen for what the market could surely demand opens up the Stars to a kind of money trouble they habitually take pains to avoid. There are other pathways, but they have dangers of their own:

Should the Stars and Heiskanen opt for a less lucrative (since it’s shorter) bridge deal, Heiskanen has four more years under team control before he would hit unrestricted free agency. Such a deal could give Dallas more flexibility to re-sign John Klingberg after Joe Pavelski and Alexander Radulov come off the books. But it would also walk Heiskanen to the open market, something the Stars should try to avoid given the possibility Heiskanen becomes the best defenseman in the world.

As it stands right now, the Stars have $23.3 million in cap space for the 2021-22 season, according to Cap Friendly. If we estimate Hintz signs for an AAV of $3 million and ballpark Heiskanen at $8.5 million, that leaves Dallas with $11.8 million in space with only seven forwards, four defensemen and two goaltenders under contract.

Matt has more. [SportsDayDFW]

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Sounds about right. Enjoy.