'He's going to blow people away': Stars rookie Heiskanen already impressing

By The Canadian Press
November 4, 2018 - 11:45am

Stars defenceman Marc Methot heard the rumour this off-season that his old team wanted blue-line prospect Miro Heiskanen as part of any trade package involving Erik Karlsson.

The two-time Norris Trophy winner's partner for five seasons with the Ottawa Senators, Methot knew perhaps better than anyone what Karlsson could bring to Dallas.

After playing alongside Heiskanen in the first month of his NHL career, it's also clear to him why any potential deal involving the 19-year-old was probably a non-starter.

"Now that I've seen him play, I wouldn't do that either," Methot said. "He's got so much potential."

The third overall pick by Dallas at the 2017 NHL draft, Heiskanen has averaged 21 minutes 53 seconds — including a career-high 27:10 in Saturday's 4-3 overtime victory against the Washington Capitals — through 13 games to lead all rookies.

The smooth-skating Finn's two goals, both of them game-winners, have come in his last five outings to go along with two assists for four points overall.

"I expected a really fast game," Heiskanen said. "I'm playing against the best players in the world. It's a good gauge for me.

"Every game I'm feeling more comfortable. It's going better and better."

For all the skill Heiskanen possesses, and there's a lot of it, Methot said the rookie's most impressive attribute has been his attitude.

"The best part of his game is his head," the 33-year-old said. "He's such a good pro at his age, it's incredible. At that age I was playing junior hockey.

"He's in the NHL and he is contributing and playing a lot of minutes. I can't say enough about him."

The six-foot-one, 185-pound Heiskanen suffered a concussion before Stars training camp last season and wound up staying in Finland for the duration of the 2017-18 campaign, registering 11 goals and 12 assists in 30 games with HIFK Helsinki.

That meant Heiskanen showed up as somewhat of an unknown quantity among his future teammates this September.

They certainly know all about him now, but it might take the rest of the hockey world a little time to catch up because of where he plays.

"His hockey IQ and skating ability together is special," said 35-year-old centre Jason Spezza. "He's going to hide in Dallas for a few years, nobody's going to know what he's up to, and then his numbers are going to speak for itself.

"He's going to blow people away."

Apart from what Heiskanen has between the ears, that skating stride Spezza mention is what's stood out to Methot on the ice.

"Miro is so efficient," he said. "He can get himself out of trouble all the time.

"It may not look like he's flying, but he is."

Klingberg, meanwhile, is not surprised that Heiskanen has jumped right into the lineup as a big contributor.

"He's that good so he's supposed to play that many minutes," said Klingberg, who tied for second among NHL defencemen in scoring last season with 67 points. "His overall game, his gaps, his reads, is high-level.

"It's impressive."

Heiskanen also has a fan in another rookie — his head coach.

"I just can't say enough about the kid," said Stars first-year bench boss Jim Montgomery. "He skates effortlessly, he makes plays, and every game he seems to be getting better."

Like his defence partner, Heiskanen heard his name mentioned in rumours this summer and wants to repay the faith the organization showed.

"It feels great that they trust me," he said.

Having played with Karlsson, who was eventually traded by Ottawa to the San Jose Sharks on the eve of training camp, Methot is hesitant to make early comparisons between a rookie like Heiskanen and one of the best blue-liners in the world.

But he sees similarities.

"They're both extremely confident with the puck," he said. "Miro's obviously very young, but I can only imagine what his projection will be like in five, six years. They're both very calm, very smart with the puck, both have fantastic vision.

"Time will tell with Miro."

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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

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