Dallas Stars Daily Links: It’s Time To Call Miro Heiskanen What He Is

And what he is, for a start, is the best defenseman of his generation, writes Sean Shapiro. Plus, firsts for the first-timers, Round 2 in #fancystats, and more.

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]

Stars Stuff

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.”

Speaking of people who are having extraordinary years...ladies and gentlemen, Anton Khudobin.

What went right during Round 2? Fancy-stats guru Corey Sznajder examined the data behind Dallas’ ultimate defeat of the Colorado Avalanche. #thread

Also, I’ll just leave this here.

Around The League(s)

Now this is the Tampa Bay Lightning everyone thought would show up in 2019.

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.

Also at THN: John Klingberg enters the chat and reminds the league to sleep with one eye open (looking at you, Vegas Golden Knights).

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.

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.


The Stars watching the Kentucky Derby is the kind of wholesome fun you need today. Enjoy.