The Buffalo News profiled top prospects leading up to the NHL Draft, which will be held Thursday and Friday in Chicago. See the entire series at the bottom of this post.
Professional team: HIFK (Finland)
2016-17 stats: 37 games, 5 goals, 5 assists, 10 points
Size: 6-foot, 170 pounds
Born: Espoo, Finland
Central Scouting rank: No. 4 (Europe)
What to know: Just 17 years old, Heiskanen more than holds his own against professionals. On those rare occasions when he plays against his peers, look out.
Heiskanen was voted the best defenseman at this year’s under-18 world championships, recording two goals and 12 points in seven games while leading Finland to the silver medal. He played for HIFK’s junior team in 2015-16 and earned rookie of the year, an award previously won by Carolina’s Sebastian Aho. Heiskanen quickly adapted to the professional level, including three points in eight playoff games.
The postseason performance put more eyes on the gifted defenseman, who shot up to No. 4 overall on the draft rankings of TSN’s Bob McKenzie. Speedy and shifty, Heiskanen is confident in the offensive and defensive zones. His vision and instincts are impressive. With a July birthday, he’s younger than most of his fellow prospects and not quite as physically mature.
He said it: “I think I’m a good two-way defensemen. I’ll do everything my best to try and play as soon as possible. It might be possible to play next year, or then I’ll play one year in Finland and then I’ll play here.” – Heiskanen on his NHL goals.
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Previous installments to Road to the NHL Draft: