Prospect of Interest: The 411 on Miro Heiskanen

Miro Heiskanen. (Photo by Samuli Seila)

Miro Heiskanen’s stock has been rising steadily since the start of 2016-17. He began the season sitting outside the first round according to October’s early rankings and finished the year as a possible top-three pick.

The Finnish teenager is widely considered to be the best defenceman in this year’s prospect pool and has definite first-pairing potential thanks to his smart two-way game and elite skating.

Here’s what you need to know about Heiskanen.

Team: HIFK (Liiga)
Position: Defence
Shoots: Left
Age: 17
From: Espoo, FIN
Height: 6-foot
Weight: 174 pounds
NHL Central Scouting ranking (European skaters): No. 4

Jeff Marek’s Take: “All around we feel Heiskanen is the best defenceman in the draft. Has an ease about him in all situations and never seems to panic.”

He’s the most complete defenceman in the draft
You can’t read anything about Heiskanen without at least one mention of his smooth skating, confident puck-moving, and all-around complete game. In other words, he appears to be about as safe a pick as you can get if you’re in the market for a rearguard at this year’s draft.

While it’s tempting to use the term “offensive defenceman” in describing him, “two-way” is a much more fitting description. Heiskanen is certainly more than capable of a strong end-to-end rush and can be a real asset on the power play, but he’s not likely to reach the level of, say, an Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns as far as point tallies go.

It’s not just scouts who have him listed as the best defenceman in this year’s draft—Heiskanen himself believes he’s a top-rated rearguard for a reason.

“I think that might be possible because I’m a good two-way defenceman who can play offence and defence,” he told during the NHL Scouting Combine. “I feel I’m the best of those types of defencemen who are [at the Combine].”

If there’s a downside to Heiskanen, it’s size. Though he is by no means considered undersized, his 6-foot, 174-pound frame is a bit lacking in strength—though at just 17, he’s got plenty of time to fill out.

He’s already playing among men
The teenager put together an impressive rookie campaign in Finland’s top hockey league this past season, registering five goals and five assists in 37 games. While those numbers may not exactly jump off the page, it’s an impressive feat when you consider his age compared to that of his competition as well as the fact that the 17-year-old was able to log an average of almost 20 minutes per game. It’s also worth noting that Heiskanen totaled just four penalty minutes all season.

He turned heads at the 2017 Under-18s
That experience in the pros seemed to really pay off this spring. Finland earned silver at April’s IIHF U18 World Championship, and Heiskanen was a big reason why.

The rearguard led all skaters in assists (10) and plus/minus (plus-13) and ranked second in total points (12) while being named the tournament’s top defenceman. He was also a strong part of the team’s power play.

His elite skating and smart play-making was on full display during Finland’s quarterfinal win over the Czech Republic. He’s No. 33:

Heiskanen has sported the Suomi sweater several times throughout his young career. Prior to the Under-18s, he suited up for Finland during the world juniors, where he was one of a few bright spot during the team’s dismal outing.

Teams could move up to get him
Many mock drafts are placing Heiskanen at the No. 3 spot, where the Dallas Stars are set to pick thanks to some great draft lottery luck. The offensive-minded club could surely use a little depth on the blue line, but so could plenty of other teams.

According to a report last month, Stars general manager Jim Nill said he was open to trading away the pick.

“I have talked to other teams already about possibly moving that pick, getting an established player back,” Nill said, via “It gives us a lot of options. I think this will heat up more as we go.”

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported in his May 16 edition of 30 Thoughts that several other teams could be eying that pick.

“Several NHL scouts came back from the Under-18s incredibly impressed with Finland’s Miro Heiskanen. A lot of the jockeying begins with the third pick, and he is one of the candidates,” Friedman wrote. “It wouldn’t surprise anyone if a team like Detroit or Tampa Bay, searching for blue line depth, tried to move up to take him.”

Detroit currently has pick No. 9 while Tampa Bay sits at No. 14.

If Heiskanen happens to fall beyond the third pick, three other defence-hungry teams await: Colorado, Vancouver and Vegas.

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