The Stars have locked up their franchise defender as they announced that they’ve signed Miro Heiskanen to an eight-year, $67.6MM contract. He was set to become a restricted free agent when his entry-level contract expired at the end of the month. The deal makes him the highest-paid Finnish player in NHL history. GM Jim Nill released the following statement:
We are excited to announce that we have signed Miro to a long-term contract. Since joining us, it has been clear that Miro is part of a collection of young, rising stars that are now playing in the National Hockey League. As an organization, we truly feel that Miro has just scratched the surface of his ability and will be in the Norris Trophy discussion for years to come. On behalf of Tom Gagliardi, his family, and our organization, we want to thank Miro for his commitment to the team and we all look forward to watching him as he continues to evolve into one of the elite players of the game.
2021-22: $5MM (including $3MM signing bonus)
2025-26: $11MM, NMC
2026-27: $9MM, NMC
2027-28: $8MM, NMC
2028-29: $6.6MM, NMC
As the first four years of the deal were RFA-eligible seasons, Heiskanen was not eligible for any form of trade protection in those years.
The soon-to-be 22-year-old has quickly become the lynchpin of their defense corps. He was the third-overall pick in 2017 but waited a year to make his NHL debut, a move that certainly looks wise at this point. He was able to step into a prominent role as a 19-year-old rookie, logging over 23 minutes a night and has only gotten better since then.
Heiskanen was an integral part of the Stars making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final back in the bubble a year ago where he averaged nearly 26 minutes a game in playing time while recording 26 points in 27 games, good enough to lead all defensemen while finishing third overall in scoring.
That led to extremely high expectations for Heiskanen heading into 2020-21. He actually took a small step back offensively, recording 27 points in 55 contests which created the possibility of his camp preferring a bridge contract where he’d be able to have a better platform season a couple of years from now, bolstering his value in the process. Instead, the two sides have been able to agree on a record-setting contract as this beats Thomas Chabot’s eight-year, $64MM pact as the biggest deal handed out to a defenseman coming off his entry-level pact. The $8.45MM AAV also makes him the sixth-highest paid defenseman in the NHL.
With this signing, one of the three high-end RFA defenders are now signed with Vancouver’s Quinn Hughes and Colorado’s Cale Makar being the others that will need a new contract in the coming months. It’s clear that their agents will be using this deal for Heiskanen as a comparable in those negotiations.
Dallas now has just over $5.8MM in cap space for next season, per CapFriendly. Joel Kiviranta and Jason Dickinson are their only remaining restricted free agents while Jamie Oleksiak is their most prominent pending unrestricted free agent. That doesn’t leave Nill with a lot to work on this summer so it wouldn’t be surprising to see discussions on an extension for John Klingberg pick up now. The 28-year-old has one year left on his contract at a below-market price tag of $4.25MM and is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.