I’m now an old man and I’ve witnessed enough bad hockey to appreciate what the Dallas Stars are doing this season and recognize how bad 2017 truly was. That was a hot ass mess that somehow didn’t warrant a coaching change midsession. I’m already getting distracted.
The biggest consolation by far was “winning” the draft enough to move up to the third pick where the Stars selected defender Miro Heiskanen. The NHL abandoning the Olympics this year gave him the chance to play for Finland. They took on Germany tonight for what was the first chance for many of us to see him play in a live game. In the 5-2 win he showed quite a bit,
These are the thoughts and first impressions of a 32 year old man lovingly watching and dreaming about the future of an 18 year old hockey player:
I feel like I have a good read on Heiskanen, but I also don’t. He was easily the best defenseman on Team Finland and arguably looked like their most dynamic all around player outside of possibly Eeli Tolvanen. But, something was missing. I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Several aspects of Heiskanen’s game stick out. He’s a very fluid skater who stops and starts with ease. He isn’t a speed demon. He’s just a really really really good skater. He makes a very good first pass and it’s usually a pass with a high probabilty of being completed successfully.
The kid is a horse with the puck. He was so strong on his skates and he’s only 18. Heiskanen won puck battles in every zone, fought for everything and usually came up with the puck, and only had one real turnover I noticed. It was a bad one, but only one.
Offensively there wasn’t much there, but I swear he was doing something on each shift to disrupt a play or move the play to the other end of the rink away from his net. He’s just always there. The thing is he clearly has the offensive tools to be a top tier offensive player if he decides he wants to use them.
I don’t remember him doing much anything in the offensive zone at even strength. The couple of offensive plays he did set up were on the powerplay. I’m not sure he even attempted a shot on net which is kind of crazy since he has 11 goals and 8 assists in 25 games playing against adults in Liiga.
I wonder if we’re seeing a young kid defer to veterans on an international stage. I mean he’s only 18. That isn’t even really a criticism. You’re supposed to do that. He’s just so clearly more talented than the rest of them that I left that game wondering how dominant he would be if he really asserted himself.
The most dangerous play he attempted was a Stars-esque exit pass that led to a German goal against. Where was the creativity in the offensive zone? With all the talent he has I’m looking forward to see how he looks against Norway, and I hope he punches the gas more. He’s a keeper.
I tweeted out a bunch of bootleg iPhone 8 Plus (boogie) videos of him showcasing his skils. Here they are.
Here he is skating the puck out under pressure:
Here’s an example of how quickly he can get a pass fired off:
Heiskanen brushes off a hit to make a play in the offensive zone:
This play wasn’t perfect, but he did recover to break up an opportunity:
Look how hard the Germans have to work to get him off the puck:
Miro does a really solid job of breaking up forechecks:
Here he is carrying the puck out of the zone again:
This is the powerplay opportunity I was referring to:
Followed by determined puck retrieval:
….and this is the ugly turnover that led the the first German goal:
Miro came back shortly thereafter to jack a puck and find a safe outlet:
He can play. Watch him now while you can. He’s the best prospect the Stars have had since Val Nichushkin by far, and I would be shocked if he isn’t a very good player for the Stars for a very long time. Your next chance to see him is on Friday against Norway.
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