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Prospect Report: Jere Lehtinen likes what he sees in Miro Heiskanen

Lehtinen says the Dallas defense prospect has a good chance to play at 2018 Olympics

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

As general manager of Finland's national team, Jere Lehtinen has kept a close eye on Stars defense prospect Miro Heiskanen who is playing in Finland's top league this season. He likes what he sees.

"He's a good player," Lehtinen said. "Last year, I saw him play many games. Most of the time he stood out. But now, this season, he is even better. We had him in a tournament a few weeks ago, and he was one of our better defensemen there."

That tournament was the Karjala Cup, which is considered an audition as Finland looks to select its rosters for the 2018 Olympics and 2018 World Championship. Heiskanen played well, scoring two goals in three games as Finland won the tournament that featured Olympic hopefuls from other countries, including Canada, Sweden, Russia, Czech Republic and Switzerland.

"He has a good chance to go and play in the Olympics this year and the World Championship. We'll see what happens, but he put a good notice for us," Lehtinen said. "At Christmastime, he is going to the World Juniors, and we'll see how he plays there."

The Stars selected Heiskanen in the first round (third overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft. The 18-year-old Heiskanen is a highly-skilled defenseman with great hockey sense, and he plays well at both ends of the ice.

Video: Lehtinen on jersey retirement

"Overall, a good defenseman but he can put up good numbers too. You don't want to say too much. He can be a better shooter, but he can find the net pretty good," Lehtinen said. "His skating and hockey sense skills, you can just tell are better than most guys, and that makes him a good overall player."

Heiskanen scored his eighth goal of the season Saturday, tallying in overtime to give HIFK a 2-1 victory over Tappara in Finland's top league. Heiskanen has 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in 15 games and is averaging 24:08 of ice time per game. His eight goals rank second among league defensemen, and he is tied for 12th in points, even though he missed the first 11 games of the season due to a concussion.

"They put him in all situations all the time," Lehtinen said. "That team is better when they have him. He was hurt the first month of the season, and that team didn't play that well. That tells you a lot."

And Lehtinen said Heiskanen is only going to get better.

"He makes mistakes, but that doesn't happen too often," Lehtinen said. "He's going to be good if he keeps building on where he is right now."

Heiskanen Stats: HIFK (Liiga) | 15 GP | 8 G | 4 A | 12 PTS | +8 | 6 PIM

Here's a look at how other Dallas prospects playing in Europe, college and juniors fared over the past week.

 
North American Juniors

RW Nick Caamano (5th round/2016) was traded within the Ontario Hockey League over the past week, moving to the Hamilton Bulldogs from the Flint Firebirds in a major transaction that involved three players and three OHL draft picks. The 18-year-old forward goes from last-place Flint to a first-place team in Hamilton. Caamano tallied a goal and an assist in his first game with the Bulldogs, a 6-2 win over Ottawa. Caamano has 23 points (13 goals, 10 assists) in 24 games this season.

Caamano Stats: Hamilton/Flint (OHL) | 24 GP | 13 G | 10 A | 23 PTS | -6 | 38 PIM

LW Jason Robertson (2nd round/2017) continues to rack up the goals and points in the OHL. He tallied seven points (four goals, three assists) in three games for Kingston over the past week, giving him 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) over his past 12 games. Robertson has 32 points (17 goals, 15 assists) in 25 games for the season and is tied for fourth in the league in goal scoring.

Robertson Stats: Kingston (OHL) | 25 GP | 17 G | 15 A | 32 PTS | +7 | 20 PIM

C Liam Hawel (4th round/2017) had no points in three games for Guelph of the OHL. Hawel has 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 23 games.

Hawel Stats: Guelph (OHL) | 23 GP | 3 G | 10 A | 13 PTS | -1 | 11 PIM

D Ondrej Vala (Free agent/2016) picked up two assists in two games for Kamloops of the Western Hockey League last week. Vala has 17 points in 24 games.

Vala Stats: Kamloops (WHL) | 24 GP | 6 G | 11 A | 17 PTS | -1 | 24 PIM

C Brett Davis (6th round/2017) tallied one assist in three games for Kootenay of the WHL giving him 14 points (seven goals, seven assists in 26 games.

Davis Stats: Kootenay | 26 GP | 7 G | 7 A | 14 PTS | -4 | 9 PIM

 

NCAA

LW Riley Tufte (1st round/2016) scored one goal in No. 16 Minnesota Duluth's 3-1 win over No. 8 Minnesota State over the weekend. The goal snapped a six-game goal scoring drought for Tufte who has nine points (six goals, three assists) in 15 games.

Tufte Stats: Minnesota Duluth (NCHC) | 15 GP | 6 G | 3 A | 9 PTS | +2 | 14 PIM

G Colton Point (5th round/2016) went 1-1-0 as No. 18 Colgate split a weekend series with No. 11 Western Michigan. Point stopped 37 of 42 shots in a 5-3 loss in the first game and then turned away 36 of 37 shots in a 5-1 win in the second game. Point is 8-2-4 and ranks second in the nation in save percentage (.947) and fifth in goals against average (1.68).

Point Stats: Colgate (ECAC) | 8-2-4 | 1.68 | .947

G Jake Oettinger (1st round/2017) lost his only start last week, stopping 26 of 30 shots as No. 19 Boston University fell 4-3 to No. 7 Cornell. Oettinger is 5-7-1 with a 2.78 goals against average and .908 save percentage.

Oettinger Stats: Boston University (Hockey East) | 5-7-1 | 2.78 | .908

D Joe Cecconi (5th round/2015) recorded one goal and one assist in two games as No. 17 Michigan was swept in a weekend series by No. 15 Ohio State. Cecconi leads Michigan defensemen in scoring with 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 14 games.

Cecconi Stats: Michigan (Big Ten) | 14 GP | 3 G | 7 A | 10 PTS | -7 | 12 PIM

C/LW Rhett Gardner (4th round/2016) did not register any points as No. 3 North Dakota lost one game and tied the other in a two-game series against Union. Gardner has nine points (three goals, six assists) in 16 games.

Gardner Stats: North Dakota (NCHC) | 16 GP | 3 G | 6 A | 9 PTS | +5 |8 PIM

D Michael Prapavessis (4th round/2014) had no points in two games for RPI over the weekend. Prapavessis has six assists in 14 games.

Prapavessis Stats: RPI (ECAC) | 14 GP | 0 G | 6 A | 6 PTS | -7 | 8 PIM

 

Europe

D John Nyberg (6th round/2014) recorded one assist in three games for Frolunda in the Swedish Hockey League. Nyberg has seven points (two goals, five assists) in 22 games and is averaging 18:36 of ice time per game.

Nyberg Stats: Frolunda (SHL) | 22 GP | 2 G | 5 A | 7 PTS | E | 28 PIM

C Jacob Peterson (5th round/2017) got bumped up to the Swedish Hockey League last week and played three games, registering no points in limited playing time. He has no points in five SHL games this season.

Peterson Stats: Frolunda (Sweden, Jr.) | 22 GP | 11 G | 12 A | 23 PTS | -6 | 12 PIM 

Frolunda (SHL) | 5 GP | 0 G | 0 A | 0 PTS | -1 | 0 PIM

LW/C Fredrik Karlstrom (3rd round/2016) did not register any points in three games for Linkoping in the SHL. He has three points (one goal, two assists) in 22 games.

Karlstrom Stats: Linkoping (SHL) | 22 GP | 1 G | 2 A | 3 PTS | -1 | 6 PIM 

Linkoping (Sweden, Jr.) | 3 GP | 2 G | 0 A | 2 PT | -3 | 4 PIM

D Jakob Stenqvist (6th round/2016) had no points in two games for Bjorkloven in Sweden's second league. He has 11 points (one goal, 10 assists in 21 games and is averaging 17:35 of ice time.

Stenqvist Stats: Bjorkloven (Allsvenskan) | 21 GP | 1 G | 10 A | 11 PTS | E | 10 PIM

G Markus Ruusu (6th round/2015) played two games for Ilves in Finnish juniors last week, going 0-2-0 and stopping 61 of 66 shots. He made 27 saves on 30 shots in a 3-2 loss to Karpat and then stopped 34 of 36 shots in a 2-1 loss to Assat.

Ruusu Stats: Ilves (Liiga) | 5-6-0 | 3.75 | .851 

Ilves (Finland, Jr.) 2 GP | 0-2-0 | 2.57 | .924

D Miro Karjalainen (5th round/2014) had no points in two games for HPK in Finland's top league. He has three assists in 17 games.

Karjalainen Stats: HPK (Liiga) | 17 GP | 0 G |3 A | 3 PTS | -5 | 79 PIM

LW Valeri Nichushkin (1st round/2013) played one game in the KHL last week and did not score. Nichushkin has 17 points (10 goals, seven assists) in 29 games.

Nichushkin Stats: CSKA (KHL) | 29 GP | 10 G | 7 A | 17 PTS | +8 | 10 PIM

This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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