Vancouver Canucks 2017 NHL Draft Profile: D Miro Heiskanen

Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Brock Boeser walks to the stage after being selected as the number twenty-three overall pick to the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; Brock Boeser walks to the stage after being selected as the number twenty-three overall pick to the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vancouver Canucks are preparing for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft — and so are we.

Once again the Vancouver Canucks failed to secure a spot in the NHL playoffs. So, instead of competing for the Stanley Cup, Canucks GM Jim Benning and his staff will use the upcoming months to prepare next season’s roster. Now that the organisation is officially in a ‘transition period’, the 2017 NHL Entry Draft will be of utmost importance.

A four-game winning streak to start the 2016-17 season gave fans hope for the playoffs. But — blame the coach, the roster, injuries or anything else — unfortunately, the team was unable to play competitively for an entire season. With that, they are guaranteed another high draft pick this year.

Here at The Canuck Way, we will do our best to prepare you for the upcoming draft by profiling as many eligible players as we possibly can. Keep in mind that we are not saying these are players the Canucks are targeting. Instead, these are players that we think the Canucks could or should have interest in.

This year’s draft seems wide-open, with no real consensus in any of the seven rounds. So, it will certainly be interesting to see who will put on a Vancouver Canucks jersey come June.

Under the microscope today: Finnish defenseman Miro Heiskanen!

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Name: Miro Heiskanen

Position: Defense

Shoots: Left

Birthdate: 1999-07-18

Height, weight: 6’0”, 174 lbs

Team, league: HIFK, Liiga

Stats (from 







#10 by
#11 by Future Considerations
#11 by McKeen’s Hockey
#4 by NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters)

Risk, Reward: 2/5, 5/5

NHL-potential: Top-pairing defenseman

Draft Range: Top 10

Scouting report

"A two-way rearguard that plays with strong mobility, speed and awareness…possesses excellent lateral agility and straight ahead speed…starts and stops very quickly and possesses a very smooth overall stride…carries the puck confidently up the ice and into the offensive zone…has impressive vision…makes very good passes, finding his teammates quickly and without hesitation in all three zones…takes quick, accurate wrist shots from the point…good foot speed enables him to keep gaps close….not afraid to use his body to separate the puck from an opponent or rub out an attacker along the wall… keeps his man to the outside…struggles with a lack of strength…displays pretty strong awareness defensively making quick stick checks to interrupt plays and then quickly turning the play back up ice…a minute muncher who shows high level intelligence and decision making…a potential top four blueliner displaying high end poise, puck skills and skating ability.  (Future Considerations, November 2016)"


Miro Heiskanen is an outstanding defense prospect whose stock only keeps rising. He is an extremely smart player with elite skating and hockey sense, making him a potential top-pairing player at the NHL level. There is almost nothing Heiskanen isn’t good at.

The Finn is an excellent skater with a smooth yet powerful stride. He is extremely agile and has great lateral mobility, which allows him to keep a tight gap to the attacker and defend the rush. It takes a lot more than speed and a couple of deke to get past Heiskanen.

In addition, Heiskanen has excellent defensive awareness. He always knows what’s going on around him and makes sure to cover anyone around the net. Heiskanen anticipates plays very well and uses his positioning and an active stick to intercept passes and force turnovers.

With the puck, Heiskanen can be dangerous as well. He is a confident puck carrier who can move the puck through the neutral zone himself or play quick, accurate breakout passes. In the offensive zone, his vision and puck skills allow him to set up scoring chances with dangerous passes. Plus, Heiskanen possesses a great shot arsenal and can fire pucks at the net with deadly accuracy.


As said, there isn’t much to criticise about Heiskanen. Perhaps his only weakness is something he has no control about — his size. A 6-foot, 174-pound blueliner is certainly considered small by NHL standards, and Heiskanen does lack strength in board battles. As a two-way defender who excels in every other area, this is not too much of a concern, though.

In a desperate attempt to list more weaknesses for this player, the only thing I could think of is his offensive upside. He isn’t as dynamic and offensively dangerous as someone like Cale Makar. He won’t be an Erik Karlsson-type offensive player. Think 40 to 50 points max., not 82.

Final Thoughts

More from Draft

In a draft where many players in the top 15 seem interchangeable, a two-way defenseman with virtually no flaws should be worth something. The Canucks are particularly looking for a future No. 1 center and a top-pairing defenseman who can quarterback the power play. But, first and foremost, they need prospects that will make the NHL — and soon if possible. Heiskanen is not a center and he might not be the kind of player you want as the playmaker on the PP (although he definitely can and should be used on the man advantage) but he is very likely to make the NHL, and make it soon.

There aren’t many players in the 2017 draft that seem NHL-ready, and Heiskanen is not a sure thing either. But on a weak team like the Canucks, Heiskanen would definitely have a chance to find himself on the opening-night roster. He needs to put in some work to get bigger and stronger over the summer, but if he does that (and I’m sure he will), he will get a long look at training camp with the team that drafts him.

The Canucks selected Olli Juolevi fifth overall last year and many fans were unhappy. The same thing might happen if they draft yet another Finnish defenseman in the top five or perhaps even top three. But, to be completely honest, having Juolevi and Heiskanen in the prospect pool would be extremely positive for Vancouver’s long-term future.

Next: 2017 NHL Draft Profile Overview

By the way, Heiskanen was just named best defenseman of the under-18 worlds and ranked second in scoring with two goals and 12 points in seven games.