1999 Finnish defenseman Miro Heiskanen has been able to bring his game to the U20 league after being one of the top defensemen at the U18 level last season. He posted a 7-13-20 line while playing key minutes for HIFK. He also played as an underager for HIFK U16 in 2013-14. Heiskanen played for the Finnish U18 national team as an underager about one month ago, scoring four points in as many games. He has been very steady for HIFK U20 this season and one of the most consistent defensemen on the team.
Heiskanen has all the potential to be an excellent puck-moving defenseman at the pro level. He’s noticeably calm and confident with the puck in all situations, whether it be in the defensive zone under pressure or playing the point on power play. He has very good puck skills, keeps his head up and makes the right decisions on when to pass and when to carry the puck. Long range passes are consistently tape-to-tape. Heiskanen has both a good wrist and slap shot, especially when it comes to accuracy. He will take his chances and makes well-placed, smart shots.
He is also an elite skater who uses his edges extremely well. His transition skating from forward to backwards is very smooth. Certain times he will skate end-to-end with the puck thanks to his strong acceleration, top-end speed and ability to handle the puck at high speed. He has showed more of this in the U18 league thus far, however. His lateral movement on the blueline in the offensive zone is very good. This, along with his calm passing game, makes him a very solid player on power play. Skating has always been one of Heiskanen’s biggest assets along with his skill and smarts.
Heiskanen is not a particularly physical defenseman, but he reads the developing play well and therefore doesn’t get into trouble in the defensive zone too often. His strong gap control and stick positioning allow him to take away passing lanes and options from the oncoming forwards. However, he’s currently listed at 5’10, 154 pounds and there’s definitely room for him to get stronger.
At the moment Heiskanen is one of the top Finnish prospects for the 2017 NHL Draft in my opinion. He has lots of upside to his offensive game and has continued to improve many parts of his game this season.