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Sabres Draft Watch: D - Miro Heiskanen

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Posted at 5:47 PM, Jun 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-16 17:47:41-04

The Buffalo Sabres select ______   _____ from ___________."

Will new Sabres GM Jason Botterill be one of those guys who does the whole "We want to say hi to our fans watching from 716 Food and Sport back in Buffalo" or will he take after his predecessor and just announce the pick with a subdued look?

We will more than likely find out on June 23 at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago. The Sabres hold the eighth overall pick and assuming they don't make a trade, they have plenty of options with their first selection. As the draft rapidly approaches we'll look at some intriguing prospects for the Sabres and break down what they bring to the table. Buckle up, it's going to be a fun few weeks.

Miro Heiskanen

Defenseman, HIFK, Finish League
6'0" - 172 pounds

The Buffalo Sabres already have their fair share of Finish flare on the blue line, but perhaps they could use some more.

Miro Heiskanen, a 17-year-old Finland native, has plenty of upside and is viewed by many as the safest defensive prospect in the 2017 NHL Draft. As other defensemen have seen their draft stock fall, Heiskanen has skyrocketed to the top of nearly everyone's draft boards and is viewed by many as the top blueliner in this draft class.

Heiskanen shined in the World Under-18 tournament, tallying 12 points [2G, 10A] in seven games. A much more impressive outing than what he displayed in the 2017 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, where he registered only one assist in six games.

While with HIFK in Liiga (Finish League) Heiskanen posted an impressive five goals and five assists in 37 games. Those numbers might not jump off the page, but it's important to remember he was a 17-year-old playing in a league full of grown men.

Here's how Elite Prospects describes Heiskanen:

"An elite two-way defenseman in the making, Miro Heiskanen has a toolbox bursting at the seams. Very smooth skater whose general agility and athleticism is excellent and on display every shift. A confident puck-mover with no issues running a play himself and starting a transition up-ice. Solid creativity and impressive puck skills. Always makes the high percentage play and doesn't put teammates in dangerous or vulnerable positions. Willingness to play a physical game is not an issue, as he is often seen throwing the body. Defensively very diligent and proactive, keeping the opposition to the outside and cutting off open and common lanes."

Despite the aforementioned praise, Heiskanen like many has things that he needs to work on. More than likely, he'll return to Finland for another year or two of developing, before taking his talents to North America.

If he's available with the eighth pick Jason Botterill should run to the podium. Maybe even sprint. he'll likely be gone, but this is exactly the kind of player the Sabres would love to have in their organization. 

Previous Sabres Draft Profiles: 

Casey Miitelstadt 

Owen Tippett

Timothy Liljegren 

Cale Makar 

Michael Rasmussen