Over the next few months headed into the 2011-12 season, we're hoping to roll out some new features and updates here at Defending Big D. One of those new features (or expanded features, at least) is a regular update on the prospects in the Dallas Stars system. We'll also be ranking the prospects over all time to time, as players prove themselves or struggle as they develop in the juniors or in college -- starting today.
For our first update of the post-2011 NHL Draft I wanted to take a step back from admiring the newest additions to the Stars organization and take a look at a few prospects that will be making a push for the NHL in the near future. Several players from recent drafts have made it to the AHL and we've been able to get a good look at their progress. With players like Colton Sceviour, Travis Morin, Philip Larsen and Tomas Vincour getting not only top status in Austin but also getting a chance to show their potential, however brief, in Dallas as well, the future of the Stars has been given a face.
What about the players not able to be in Austin, who are overseas or playing in the NCAA? While we focus on players like Larsen, Scott Glennie, Matt Fraser and Brenden Dillon, the Stars have a number of very promising players in the NCAA and in Sweden that should have fans very excited -- especially with the addition of a few NCAA players this year as well.
Here's a look at a few.
Alex Chiasson (RW) -- Boston University -- Drafted 2009, Second Round
2010 Stats -- GP - 35 | G - 14 | A - 20 | Pts - 34 | PIM - 75
Drafted in the 2nd round in 2009, Chiasson has the ability to become a better overall player that the Stars' top pick that year. A powerful forward with very good size (6-4, 198), Chiasson is a natural goal scorer who is good at both ends of the ice. If he had decided to play in junior hockey, rather than head to the NCAA, there's no doubt Chiasson would be one of the most touted prospects coming out of the NCAA. He plays a very physical, hard-nosed game and loves to get to the front of the net -- but also has the ability to snap a wicked shot on goal from anywhere on the ice.
When he was drafted, Chiasson told Defending Big D that his physical play feeds his offensive production.
"When I play physical, that's when I score goals. It's great to say, but that's where it is. I like to go hard and play physical. I think they [Dallas Stars] really liked my work ethic on the ice. I'm a power forward that really likes to go to the net and they really liked me a lot."
In 2010, Chiasson built upon a promising freshman year with increased ice time and a bigger role on the team, scoring 14 goals and leading his team in points as a sophomore. Chiasson -- whose motivation was questioned when he was drafted -- has proven to be a player with an incredible amount of drive and competitiveness, and has improved tremendously in just two years with Boston. He'll stay in the NCAA for at least this next season, but there's a good chance he'll be ready to turn pro after his junior year.
More after the jump, including complete prospect rankings.
Austin Smith (C) -- Colgate -- Drafted 2007, 5th round
2010 Stats: GP - 41 | G - 10 | A - 21 | Pts - 31 | PIM - 36
Smith is the one that many have an eye on -- a Dallas, Texas native who began his career in Frisco before moving to play with Penticton of the BCHL. Drafted in 2007, Smith showed incredible scoring acumen and playmaking ability, promising to be one of the top young players as he entered the ECAC at Colgate in 2008. His first two seasons were phenomenal, one of the top scorers on a veteran team, scoring 33 goals his first two seasons. This past year brought disappointment as inconsistency plagued Smith, scoring just 10 goals on the season while given an expanded role on the team.
Smith is considered one of the best young leaders as Colgate, a motivated hockey player that improves those around him. He's entering his senior year, however, and when he leaves the NCAA he'll be nearly 22 years old. The hope is that by that time he would have matured into a player ready for the NHL, but it's likely he'll need time in Austin before he's ready to push for such a big jump.
Patrik Nemeth (D) -- AIK (SEL) -- Drafted 2010, 2nd Round
2010 Stats -- GP - 28 | G - 1 | A - 6 | Pts - 7 | PIM - 18
The Stars' plan to get big didn't start just this season. After not drafting a defenseman in 2009, Joe Nieuwendyk had one of the better defensemen from Europe fall into his lap in the form of 6-3, 215 pound Patrik Nemeth. Not a very flashy player, Nemeth played all season with AIK in the Swedish Elite League and played like a veteran in arguably the world's 2nd best hockey league. He's a physically mature player who is a great skater for his size - something Nieuwendyk is obviously very aware of with defensemen.
A "defensive defenseman", Nemeth is a big player with great reach and poise in his own zone who rarely -- if ever -- makes mistakes. He's touted for his hockey sense and intelligence and every scout speaks about his maturity on the ice, who plays physical and knows how to protect his own net when necessary. He shined with Sweden in the World Junior Championships, despite being hurt and has began to hone his offensive skills as well. He'll never be known as a big scorer, but he also knows how to move the puck in transition and doesn't panic when the puck in on his stick. We all know how important that trait is in a defenseman for the Stars.
Nemeth is going to continue in the SEL next season and will get some much needed experience against very tough competition. I fully expect for him to start the 2012 season in Austin and will likely be in Dallas much sooner than later.
John Klingberg (D) - Frolunda (Sweden) - Drafted 2010, 5th Round
2010 Stats (overall) - GP - 46 | G - 4 | A - 19 | Pts - 23 | PIM - 41
Klingberg is yet another gem of a find in the 5th round for the Dallas Stars, a talented defensemen who fills the offensive void that Nemeth is lacking. Klingberg played at three levels of hockey in Sweden in 2010-11, finishing up with 26 games in the SEL where he five assists playing for Frolunda.
Klingberg made the jump to the SEL after being named the playoff MVP for Frolunda's junior hockey team, picking up 11 points in seven games as his team won the league championship. At the junior level, Klingberg had 4 goals and 17 assists in 20 games and showed the offensive potential to be a truly special player. The Stars really love Klingberg, signing him to an ELC this past spring (along with Nemeth, as well). Les Jackson is very enthusiastic about his development, as he's proven to be a player dedicated to improving and continuing to become more than just a project.
When he was drafted, Klingberg was just 6-1, 155 pounds but has since put on nearly 20 pounds as he's physically matured as a hockey player. He'll make a big jump next season, heading to Finland to play for Jokerit in the SM-Liiga, Finland's top hockey league.
Reilly Smith (RW/LW) -- Miami University (CCHA) - Drafted 2009, 3rd Round
2010 stats -- GP - 38 | G - 28 | A - 26 | Pts - 54 | PIM - 18
After going for size and power in the 2nd round, the Stars found a gem of a player with speed and skill. Smith was drafted out of the OJHL and went on to have a promising freshman year with Miami, scoring 8 goals in 44 games and was one of the top young players in the CCHA.
It was his sophomore season, however, that put Smith on the map as a future star for Dallas. Playing on the top line in all of hockey, Smith led his team in goal scoring and finished fourth nationally, seventh in total points. A First Team All-CCHA selection, Reilly started to receive national attention as his tremendous season continued. He'll lose his two linemates next season and will have a chance to step out from the shadow of Hobey Baker Award winner Andy Miele, getting the chance to prove that he's a legitimate threat and playmaker.
Smith will be one of the top players in the NCAA next season, and is praised for his incredibly hockey sense and creativity as well as his speed and energy on the ice. Smith is a player you notice, all the time, no matter what. He still needs to build some size to be able to make the jump to pro hockey, but the Stars are keeping a very close eye on yet another player who could be a big part of the future of this franchise found later in the draft.
The 2011 Summer Dallas Stars Top 20 Prospect Rankings
1. Jack Campbell
2. Alex Chiasson
3. Philip Larsen
4. Scott Glennie
5. Reilly Smith
6. Jamieson Oleksiak
7. Tomas Vincour
8. Richard Bachman
9. Patrik Nemeth
10. Austin Smith
11. Matt Fraser
12. Troy Vance
13. John Klingberg
14. Tyler Beskorowany
15. Brett Ritchie
16. Ondrej Roman
17. Colton Sceviour
18. Curtis McKenzie
19. Hubert Labrie
20. Brenden Dillon