The Dallas Stars were a team that faced a rather large amount of adversity this season, as, during the height of the mid-season coaching carousel from November-January, the Stars fired their head coach Jim Montgomery due to unprofessional conduct and replaced him with assistant coach Rick Bowness on an interim basis. Since the coaching change, the Stars have a 20-13-5 record and trail the first-place St. Louis Blues by twelve points in the Central Division. Dallas had a 37-24-8 record before the stoppage, good for 3rd in the Central Division and also had a 3-5-2 record in their last ten games. They were even on a three-game losing streak.
Something that ought to be mentioned however is the play of sophomore defenseman Miro Heiskanen. Drafted in the first round with the third overall pick, Heiskanen made an immediate impact on the Stars in his rookie year, playing all eighty-two games, scoring twelve goals and registering thirty-three assists that season as well. This year, however, Heiskanen improved, already matching his point total from last season in fourteen fewer games. In fact, his twenty-seven assists this season were the second-most on the team behind only Tyler Seguin’s thirty-three. Heiskanen even added a 5:11 penalty taken/drawn ratio, which shows just how tremendously disciplined he is for his young age. His giveaway/takeaway ratio, however, is somewhat below average for defensemen, as it was a 79:42 (-37 turnover +/- rating); however, he made up for it with his +14 individual +/- number, which also was the highest on the team.
AB wise, Heiskanen finished the season with a +2.66 individual AB score, which was the best score out of Dallas’ defense group, and the fifth-best on the team. He trails only Jason Dickinson (+3.65), Roope Hintz (+3.57), Denis Gurianov (+3.09), and Joe Pavelski (+2.79) for the team lead. Heiskanen’s has improved dramatically from his rookie year score of -4.35, as it increased +7.01 points in one season. Perhaps this is a result of Rick Bowness’ system on Heiskanen, or perhaps he has adjusted to the NHL style of play full time now. These are questions we hope to answer after the completion of our latest project analyzing coaches, which should be ready in a few months.
Heiskanen will enter the third and final season of his entry-level contract next season, and we decided to run him through our arbitration analyzer just for fun, to see what a potential second contract looks like for him. We found a comparables contract to be that of Montreal’s Jeff Petry, who currently makes $5.5 million AAV, and Philadelphia’s Ivan Provorov, who currently makes $6.75 million AAV. Based on these projections, we could see Heiskanen’s second contract falling within the 5.5-6.5 million range. More to come.