The Dallas Stars have problems here and there.
This week, I’ll explain why I think defenseman and alternate captain Miro Heiskanen needs an enforcer defenseman instead of veteran defenseman Ryan Suter. The Heiskanen-Suter defensive pairing likely won’t work in the long run. Here are three points to consider.
Ryan Suter’s a Mismatch for Miro Heiskanen
Nobody can predict the future, but Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill can create the future.
The Dallas Stars took a gamble when they signed then-Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter to a four-year, $14.6 million contract on the opening day of the 2021 NHL Free Agency. At the time, Suter seemed to be the same solid and consistent defenseman that he was with the Wild and the Nashville Predators. But, over time, he didn’t appear to satisfy the Stars’ need for a defenseman that could be effective short-handed. By the way, Dallas ranked 19th on the penalty kill (PK) in 2020-21 and 17th in 2019-20.
Suter has been using more of a defensive-minded approach as his offensive contributions dwindle. Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen has emerged as a rising star in Dallas, Texas. Heiskanen, however, has more of a dynamic, offensive-oriented game. He has potential, but he likely can’t flourish without a defensive partner that provides more support and maximizes his defensive abilities.
Suter may add veteran leadership, something his predecessor, Jamie Oleksiak, couldn’t provide to the Stars’ rookies. However, the 38-year-old’s declining play has become evident — and the title of a “dominant defenseman” hasn’t made much sense as of late.
If the Stars decide to buy out Suter, the only unrestricted free agents (UFAs) they can arguably afford are Carson Soucy, who currently plays for the Seattle Kraken, and Radko Gudas, who currently plays for the Florida Panthers.
Dallas Stars Can Consider Young Defensive Prospects
The Dallas Stars’ AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars, has a bright future.
The Texas Stars’ young defensive prospects are reportedly eager for playing time. For example, Thomas Harley, Nils Lundkvist, and Artem Grusnikov. All three showed promise and proved they could benefit from opportunities to develop and contribute at the highest level of professional hockey.
If the Dallas Stars buy out Ryan Suter’s contract, they can open up roster spots and create opportunities for the next generation of defensemen to jump-start their careers. As a result, Dallas can achieve long-term success defensively while exciting and engaging Dallas Stars fans.
The future is now, and the Texas Stars can add to the Dallas Stars’ youth movement.
Dallas Stars Can Create a Finnish Defensive Pairing
There’s a chance that the Dallas Stars can create a Finnish defensive pairing.
I don’t have the final say on what a Finnish defense pair would be called, but I’d call it “The Finnish Line” or “Sen Suomen Linja” in Finnish. But, if I had it my way, I’d put Jani Hakanpää on the top line alongside Miro Heiskanen. After that, I’d move Thomas Harley to the Stars’ second line.
If the Stars happen to create a Finnish defense pair, the team’s Finnish mafia would be in full force. Hakanpää stands at 6’6″ and weighs 225 lbs. He led the Anaheim Ducks and ranked third in hits in the NHL in his first full season with the league in 2020-21. He isn’t much of a flashy defenseman, but his physical presence could have a big impact by causing major disruptions and living rent-free in the minds of his team’s opponents.