Dallas Stars: Dillon Heatherington Cementing 2018-19 Roster Spot
Dallas Stars defenseman Dillon Heatherington has been rock solid with the big club this season, seemingly earning himself a spot for next campaign.
In the National Hockey League, sometimes the only way to earn a spot on a stacked roster is to take advantage of some unfortunate scenarios. A chief example of this is the past and present history of the Dallas Stars.
Mattias Janmark found a spot in Dallas out of training camp in 2015, setting the Stars’ middle-six on fire with 15 goals and 28 points in his rookie season. After the Detroit Red Wings sent the Swede over in a trade deadline deal the prior season, the only one who needed to prove himself was Janmark.
He found a fortuitous place on the Dallas Stars through chance, as the team went through another season without a playoff berth. An organization with a hole at forward, Janmark surprised all and contributed key minutes and points to the Western Conference regular season champs.
The formula is simple: Janmark netted an opportunity to strut his stuff, took it, and ran with it. It’s this that physical Dallas Stars defenseman Dillon Heatherington has followed in a quest to solidify his spot on the roster next season.
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With injuries to Marc Methot, and an odd disdain towards Julius Honka (we can’t get into that right now, oh gosh), the Stars found themselves lacking a bottom-pair d-man of NHL caliber to play alongside Stephen Johns.
Enter Heatherington, who has since earned his first promotion to the highest level of North American hockey.
The former second-round selection made his NHL debut on the Stars’ heavily successful road trip, and has been a staple of the defensive lineup ever since. Though he will be taken out of the fold eventually – through another Honka try or newfound health of Methot – but Heatherington has done more for himself than a short NHL stint should do.
Dillon Heatherington has, through his NHL and American Hockey League play with the Texas Stars, all but grabbed a spot on the Dallas Stars for the 2018-19 season. He’s been a steady force on the penalty kill for Texas, eating up top-pair minutes on the farm before his recall.
With Dallas, the 6’4″ lefty has appeared in four games, totalling three shots, a plus-two rating, hovering around 49.5 Corsi For percentage, and throwing his body around for five hits. Heatherington has started over 80% of his shifts in the defensive zone, and despite that, has not been on the ice for an opposing goal.
There is no way to tell how things will play out in the months approaching the beginning of next season, but preliminary looks at the Stars’ roster suggest an opening night top-six of Esa Lindell, John Klingberg, Miro Heiskanen, Julius Honka, Marc Methot, and Stephen Johns.
Heatherington has proven in his ability to be inserted directly into the lineup and provide a formidable bottom-pair presence that he is more than suited for a seventh-defenseman role. With Greg Pateryn and Dan Hamhuis currently unsigned for the upcoming off-season, there are no better options than the man coach Ken Hitchcock calls “Heater.”
He’ll go from Columbus Blue Jackets prospective afterthought, to trade deadline return, to AHL leader, to NHL defenseman all for Lauri Korpikoski. That’s a score.
With Dallas, he could be the perfect team-first seventh-defenseman who could fill in and come out at a moment’s notice. Who knows how things will come to fruition as the season progresses and how long Dillon stays with the Stars bunch, but if next season started today, Heatherington’s #48 would be in the media guide for good.