In this edition of Dallas Stars News & Rumors, Miro Heiskanen is ruled out indefinitely and Joe Pavelski signs an extension in Dallas.
Heiskanen Out With Mono
The Stars were hit with some tough news on Thursday when Miro Heiskanen was ruled out indefinitely with mononucleosis. Heiskanen has missed the last three games but looked to be progressing towards a return to the lineup on Saturday [March 12]. Now, he has been placed on IR retroactive to March 2 and his timetable to return is completely up in the air.
“We knew last week it was probably something a little stronger than a flu bug,” said Stars head coach Rick Bowness after optional practice on Thursday morning. “His eyes were red, his cheek was puffy, his color was bad. We were afraid there was something more than just a flu bug. Unfortunately, it is mono. It’s week to week. That’s basically what we’re going to do. Just monitor as best we can.”
Heiskanen is undoubtedly the Stars’ best defenseman and arguably their best player overall. Without him, Dallas will need to find a way to fill a massive gap on their power play, in their defensive zone, and when breaking pucks out of their own end and going in transition. While it is a huge loss for Dallas, Bowness says that they won’t go and change everything after losing one player.
“You can’t really change everything you’re doing,” Bowness said. “We’ve always had that low forward when we’re breaking the puck out. It’s a different skill level now, different people handling the puck. That’s what it is. You can’t go into a lot of drastic changes at this point. The principles stay the same, the concepts stay the same. It’s just different people handling the puck.”
The Stars will wait and hope that Heiskanen’s case is mild and that the 22-year-old defenseman is able to return in short time. However, with the trade deadline rapidly approaching and Dallas in the middle of an intense playoff race, this news certainly raises some concerns that we will have to keep our eye on.
“The doctors have got it, and we trust the doctors,” Bowness said. “They’ll tell us what’s going on.”
Pavelski is Staying in Dallas
Luckily for Dallas, this week featured some great news as well. On Friday, the team announced that veteran forward Joe Pavelski had signed a one-year extension to stay with the Stars through 2023. The contract is worth $5.5 million and includes up to $500,000 in performance-based bonuses. This deal was the priority of general manager Jim Nill and his staff and getting it done in advance of the trade deadline certainly avoids some unnecessary drama.
“In his three seasons here, Joe has proven to be one of the strongest, most respected voices in the dressing room, as well as being one of the most consistent performers on the ice,” said Nill. “He has played at an All-Star level this season, and by signing this deal now, it is a testament to what he sees in this organization and how this organization values what he brings day-in and day-out. He is a true professional, an incredible leader, and an example to everyone in our organization of what the standard is.”
Pavelski has delivered nothing but excellence during his short stint in Dallas. Since joining the Stars prior to the 2019-20 season, he leads the club in points (61 goals, 80 assists=141), goals (61), power-play goals (29), even-strength points (32 goals, 59 assists=91), and plus/minus rating (+42). He has also become one of the biggest leaders on and off the ice and has aided in the development of many of Dallas’ youngest stars.
“Sarah, Nate, and I have loved the city of Dallas and the Stars organization since day one,” said Pavelski. “We are very committed to winning here and have full belief in Tom Gaglardi and his family and Jim Nill to give our group every resource in order to do so. We have a great dressing room, and it was important to me, and my family, to show that we are all in.”
Currently in his 16th NHL season, Pavelski, 37, has appeared in all 56 games, leading the team in points (22 goals, 37 assists=59), assists (37), and power-play goals (10). He will continue to play a large role in the team’s chase for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Stars return home Saturday [March 12] to face the New York Rangers at American Airlines Center. Dallas has points in six of their last seven games and has been one of the hottest teams since the All-Star break, currently sitting in the second wild-card spot.
Sam Nestler is a credentialed Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the Stars, the NHL, and college hockey. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!