After helping the Texas Stars to the Calder Cup Finals and making his NHL debut, Dillon Heatherington has re-signed with the Dallas Stars. The 23-year old defenseman wan’t eligible to file for arbitration and has instead signed a one-year two-way contract. He will be a restricted free agent once again next summer.
Heatherington made his NHL debut this season, suiting up for six games with Dallas and recording his first point. He also made quite the impact on the fan base by getting into two fights in his first three games, including coming to the defense of Antoine Roussel in late January. Heatherington isn’t known for his fighting ability having only four majors in his AHL career, but showed he was quite willing to do anything it took to make an impact for the Stars. That willingness to engage physically could lead to more NHL opportunities down the road for the 23-year old, but it’s not clear if he’ll get that chance right away.
The Stars did lose Greg Pateryn this summer and Dan Hamhuis remains an unrestricted free agent, but also brought in Roman Polak and could be ready to give some even younger players a full-time role. Julius Honka and Miro Heiskanen don’t bring the same kind of presence the 6’4″ Heatherington can provide, but are excellent puck movers and could be elite possession players in the NHL. If Heiskanen doesn’t make the club or goes through some struggles to adjust to the North American game, Heatherington will be waiting to step into the lineup. Unfortunately for Dallas the 23-year old is now waiver eligible, meaning he’ll have to clear in order to be sent down at the beginning of the season. There’s a real chance he could be claimed at that point given his solid performance and relatively high draft pedigree—50th-overall in 2013—so the team could choose to keep him around as a depth option even if they don’t have a full-time role for him.