Player Profile: Miro Heiskanen

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Love him or hate him, Miro Heiskanen is here to stay. The Finnish defenseman and alternate captain is a regular on the Dallas Stars roster. The 24-year-old is in the third year of an eight-year, $67.6 million contract, including a full no-movement clause over the final four years, with the Stars until the end of the 2028-29 NHL season.

Finnish Roots
Miro Heiskanen, 24, was born in Espoo, Finland, on July 18, 1999, to Juuka Heiskanen and Mia Mattinen. Miro has an older sister named Miira. Miira studied social work in Finland. His family is his support system, and they reportedly wake up at 3:30 AM every game to watch him play from across the Atlantic.

Heiskanen played hockey in a youth program, the Espoo Blues of Mestis, until age 14. Heiskanen also played for another youth program, HIFK of the SM-Liiga, during 2015-16 and subsequently signed a three-year contract extension with the HIFK on May 30, 2016.

Heiskanen made his professional hockey debut with the HIFK at age 17 ahead of the 2016-17 SM-Liiga season. Heiskanen played a full season with the team, where he was placed in the team’s top defensive pairing and recorded 10 points (5 goals and 5 assists) in 37 games.

Moving to Dallas
The Dallas Stars selected Miro Heiskanen with the third overall pick in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft. Heiskanen was arguably a top prospect defenseman at the time. The NHL Central Scouting Bureau’s Göran Stubb described Heiskanen as “By far, the best European defenseman in the draft.”

Heiskanen signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Stars worth $10.275 million on July 8, 2017. As a result, Heiskanen spent the 2017-18 NHL season on loan with the HIFK.

Heiskanen was named to the Stars’ roster to start the 2018-19 NHL season. Heiskanen made his NHL debut on October 4, 2018, in a 3-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes. He scored his first NHL goal on October 25, 2018, in a 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks after beating John Gibson off a pass from Jason Spezza, a former Dallas Star from 2014-19. Spezza currently serves as an assistant GM for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Heiskanen signed an eight-year, $67.6 million contract extension with the Stars on July 17, 2021. Fast forward to the 2022-23 NHL season, where Heiskanen recorded 73 points (11 goals and 62 assists) and broke the record for most points in a season by a Stars defenseman. Heiskanen’s 73 points also tied Reijo Ruotsalainen’s record for most points in an NHL season by a Finnish-born defenceman.

Finnish Mafia
Miro Heiskanen is part of the Dallas Stars’ “Finnish Mafia” alongside fellow Finns Roope Hintz, a center and left wing, Esa Lindell, a defenseman and an alternate captain, and Jani Hakanpää, a defenseman.

The “Finnish Mafia” is a significant part of the Stars’ young core, and in my opinion, a huge reason for the Stars fans’ optimism.

All of the Hardware
Miro Heiskanen represents Finland as a part of the Finnish national men’s ice hockey team. Heiskanen won a gold medal at the 2016 United States and a silver medal at the 2017 Slovakia for the IIHF World U18 Championship and a gold medal at the 2022 Finland for the IIHF World Championship.

Heiskanen received six awards and honors in his hockey career so far. He won the Yrjö Hakala Award in 2016, the Pekka Rautakallio trophy in 2018, the NHL All-Star Game and NHL All-Rookie Team in 2019, and the WJC18 All-Star Team and WJC18 Best Defenseman in 2017.

Personal Life
Miro Heiskanen was out for a personal reason ahead of the Stars’ game against the Bruins on February 19, 2024. Miro Heiskanen’s partner, Julia Taka-aho, gave birth to the couple’s first child.

The couple are also dog parents to two Pomeranians named Leo and Max. Additionally, Miro Heiskanen reportedly feels more at ease because of the two dogs.

Heiskanen once told the media, “Dallas isn’t all that different from Finland … There isn’t much of a difference; it’s pretty similar. Just a lot of hockey and spend time with my girlfriend and dogs. For me, the difference isn’t that significant.

Fun Facts
Miro Heiskanen doesn’t really have a favorite food. Heiskanen told The Athletic in 2020, “I don’t really have a favorite … Maybe some food that includes chicken. But I really don’t have something I like more than anything else. I love almost every food; it’s hard to pick one favorite.”

Despite not having one favorite food, Heiskanen reportedly plans to take the Stars to experience Finland’s famous sauna culture and try some of his favorite foods in their first overseas game in Finland. Heiskanen once said that Hesberger is a good Finnish fast-food restaurant to get some hamburgers.

Ana Kieu

Ana Kieu is a journalist by trade. Her love for sports shows in her writing, editing, and podcasting work. She writes about the NHL for Inside The Rink.

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