With the new season underway and a training camp filled with young players and prospects from juniors and the AHL its an appropriate time to analyse the potential ceiling for the Dallas Stars prospects. It's also important to analyse what their likely ceiling actually is. It's important to remember that potential ceiling and likely ceiling are two very different things.
Potential ceiling is the top level that each prospect could reach if everything goes right in their development and they stay on track. For example Jack Campbell has the potential to be an elite starting goaltender in the NHL, his natural talents and skills put him in a place where he could reach that level.
Likely ceiling is where players are, based on their current level of performance, predicted to reach. Most prospects do not reach their potential ceiling but instead are several steps below it. This occurs when everything does not go according to plan, where they hit a rut or suffer a injury.
There have been three previous posts on prospect potential. The first post was on goaltenders and can be found here. There are two posts on defenseman, part one can be found here and the second can be found here.
Note: These ceilings are based solely on my opinion.
Alex Chiasson, Right Wing 22, Texas Stars AHL, 6"3, 206lbs, Drafted Second Round, 38th Overall 2009.
Potential Ceiling: Top Six Forward
Likely Ceiling: Top Nine Forward
Alex Chiasson has become one of the top prospects in a good prospect pool for the Dallas Stars. He was selected in 2009 in the second round and proceeded to spend three years playing in the NCAA for Boston University. This is a slightly unusual path for a Quebecer but he made the most of it with three successful years with Boston. He left to turn pro after three years with Boston at the end of the 2011-2012 season and has started his first full season with the Texas Stars.
Alex Chiasson is the embodiment of everything that the Stars want in forwards that they have drafted over the past four years. He is a perfect combination of size and talent that is nearly essential to succeed in the modern NHL. He is a very effective playmaking winger who also has the size to play a relatively gritty style of game. Despite high expectations at the end of last season that he could become a dominant figure on the Texas Stars he played further down the lineup than most expected he would. Despite a slow start he has started to get back on track with 22 points through 41 games currently for the Texas Stars (11 assists and 11 goals). He still needs to work on his skating a bit but generally his game has become relatively well rounded.
Alex Chiasson has yet to play his first NHL game and it appears that other players have the injury callup rights ahead of him so its likely that any callup will occur in the 2013-2014 season rather than this year. He will likely see extended NHL time within the next two years and will be hoping to secure a permanent roster place in the next season or maybe two. Though he has the skills to be a top six forward its possible that he could also fit into a role of a skilled third line grinder with his size and talent. His slow start to a full AHL season makes me hesitant to assume he will easily be able to step into a top six role but I am confident that he can become a top nine forward in the NHL.
Potential Ceiling: Second Line Defensive Centre
Likely Ceiling: Second/Third Line Centre
Radek Faksa became the top centre prospect overnight after being selected by the Dallas Stars in the First round in the 2012 NHL draft. He fitted a need that the Stars had needed for several years, a big talented centre. Again its interesting, and telling, to note the size of Faksa and also his skill level. Radek Faksa fits what the Stars like in a player: Big, Talented and Hard Working. He was drafted out of the OHL after his first year in North America since leaving the Czech Republic. He had an impressive rookie season scoring 67 points in 62 games though he will not be able to match that after suffering a MCL strain two weeks ago and will be out for at least a month.
Radek Faksa, despite being younger than many of the other forward prospect here, is physically mature for his age. He has filled out his frame remarkably well for a young player. Radek Faksa is a very good all around player who can excel in both ends of the ice. He can play very well offensively but also be an effectively penalty killer, helping out his defense when needed. He can still improve upon his skating but beyond that there is nothing really to fault in his all around game. Its very good but not spectacular in any particular area.
Faksa potential ceiling is most likely as a defensive minded second line centre who can be effective in offensive situations while also being able to keep his head in the defensive end of the ice. His slow start to the season and his lack of significant improvement does worry me and for this reason I think its possible that he will end up being a good third line centre who can kill penalties very effectively while producing some offensive production. He cannot turn pro next season and therefore its likely he will play in the OHL for at least another season. After that he will likely need at least another season in the AHL before being ready for any extended time in the NHL.
Matt Fraser, Left Wing, 22, Texas Stars AHL, 6"2, 209lbs, Free Agent Signing
Potential Ceiling: Top Six Scoring Winger
Likely Ceiling: Top Nine Scoring Winger
Matt Fraser is another impressive free agent signing that the Dallas Stars have had out of the WHL. He is a two time AHL All Star, having been selected every year hes been in the AHL. Though he has yet to reach the NHL on a fulltime basis like other free agent signings of Brenden Dillon and Jordie Benn he is very close to the top of list when it comes to forward injury replacements.
Matt Fraser is a classic goal scoring forward who has produced a lot of goals during his time in the AHL, 58 goals through 115 games. His offensive skills are pretty good and he has an excellent shot. The problem with his game has been in his own end of the ice. His defensive game has been severely lacking though he has been making improvements on this front this season with the Texas Stars. He is currently a +13 for the season compared to the -13 he was the previous season.
Though Matt Fraser is a good prospect for the Dallas Stars its been relatively obvious from their callups this season that the Stars organisation has him behind other prospects, such as Reilly Smith, when it comes to their depth charts. Depending on next years training camp and his performance through the end of this year he might have a chance at making the Dallas Stars roster out of camp next season. I expect at the least for him to be filling in for any injuries during next season and potentially having a top nine role with the Dallas Stars the following year. With so many talented forwards in the system its going to be interesting to see how they handle what to do with Matt Fraser.
Scott Glennie, Centre, 21, Texas Stars AHL, 6"1, 200lbs, Draft First Round, 8th Overall 2009
Potential Ceiling: Top Six Forward
Likely Ceiling: Bottom Six Forward
Scott Glennie has become Stars fans favourite whipping boy when it comes to prospects who haven't yet matched the potential they have. Though he was drafted high, 8th overall, his future with the Dallas Stars looks less glamourous as it potentially could have been. He had a relatively solid first year with the Texas Stars, with 37 points in 70 games, but has had a very limited role this season and has been scratched on multiple occasions.
Scott Glennie has the potential to be a top six forward in the league. His natural talents are good but are best utilised when he isn't the go to man on a line. He can play either wing or centre, and has played both positions throughout his junior and professional career. In the past year he has been moulded by the Stars into a defensive minded third line centre. If he is to make the NHL it will likely be in this capacity. He has been criticised for not putting 100% into his game and work effort. If he can improve upon this he could become a key part of the Stars bottom six in the years to come.
Scott Glennie's chances to make a significant impact on the Dallas Stars are steadily decreasing as more forwards from the juniors and the NCAA turn pro. He could see himself as an injury replacement to play on the bottom six for the Stars next year though it still appears that Colton Sceviour has the nod ahead of him in that respect.
Alex Guptill, Left Wing, 20, University Of Michigan NCAA, 6"3, 191lbs, Draft Third Round, 77th Overall 2010
Potential Ceiling: Top Six Winger
Likely Ceiling: Top Nine Winger
Alex Guptill was drafted in the third round 77th overall in 2010 and made the jump to the NCAA in 2011. He was very impressive in his first season in the NCAA with 33 points in 41 games for the University of Michigan. He was named CCHA rookie of the year for his performance in his first year. He's hit some trouble in his second year with a couple of scratches apparently due to lack of work effort. He has 17 points through 21 games this year and has had trouble being consistent.
Guptill has some high end offensive talent and also the frame to become a good power forward at the NHL level. Like many young players with high end offensive skills his defensive game needs work. He has a good sized frame at 6"3 but he needs to bulk up during the rest of his time in the NCAA. He has a good wrist shot and also his size means that he can protect the puck well. Another year or two in the NCAA will hopefully help him become a more rounded and consistent player.
He will likely spend the next two years playing in the NCAA before signing a pro contract. Depending on where he is with his development its most likely that he will spend at least a year or two in the AHL learning the pro game before he starts logging any serious minutes in the NHL.
Curtis McKenzie, Left Wing, 21, Miami University NCAA, 6"2, 209lbs, Drafted Sixth Round, 159th Overall 2009
Potential Ceiling: Third Line Grinder
Likely Ceiling: Third/Fourth Line Grinder
Curtis McKenzie was drafted by the Stars in the sixth round in 2009 from the BCHL. He is currently in his fourth year at Miami University and the Stars will have to decide whether to offer him a professional contract. He hasn't been a huge point scorer during his time in the NCAA with his greatest points total so far being 27 during his first year in the NCAA.
Curtis McKenzie is not an offensive force by any means and his skating could do with improving. He has however become a reliable defence first forward for the Miami Redhawks. He has managed to score this year as well, though not a huge amount, but he has the natural size and talent to become a specialised Penalty Killer for a NHL team if he works hard towards it.
McKenzie's future with the Stars is very uncertain and depends upon whether the Stars believe he is worth giving a professional contract to. If they do then he will play either with the Texas Stars or the Idaho Steelheads next season. Whether he reaches the NHL is questionable at best and is only likely to happen if he steps into a specialised defensive niche.
Emil Molin, Centre, 20, Brynas Elitserien, 6"0, 176lbs, Drafted Fourth Round, 105th Overall 2011
Potential Ceiling: Second Line Playmaker
Likely Ceiling: Second/Third Line Playmaker
Emil Molin was one of the surprises of the 2011 draft for the Dallas Stars as he was unranked by the NHL Central Scouting Service. Unusually he was drafted after spending the majority of his draft year in the J18 in Sweden. Since then he has developed well scoring 42 points in 29 games while playing for Brynas's J20 team during 2011-2012 after which he earned an entry level contract with the Dallas Stars. Unfortunately he has been unable to get the ice time he needs in the Elitserien this season, he averaged just under 8 minutes per game through 39 games. Now that he is over 20 he has been loaned to Mora of the Allsvenskan.
Emil Molin is not the biggest player in the world and will need to bulk up if he wants to get into the NHL. He is however a good two way forward who can play both centre and wing, he has spent most of his time this season playing wing. One of the most notable things about Emil Molin is that he has excellent hockey sense and skill. This was very evident during the last World Junior Championship where he surprised many. His play on the second line with Sebastian Collberg and Elias Lindholm was excellent and he finished the tournament with a point per game. He also has some good speed on him and can skate well.
With the ice time troubles that Emil Molin has had this season I wouldn't be surprised to see him move to North America to play either with the Texas Stars or the Idaho Steelheads. If he gets the time he needs with Mora on the other hand its possible that it will be at least another year before he is ready to make the jump to North America. He has the potential to be a responsible two way forward on the second line in the NHL, though that is reliant upon him bulking up. He could make the NHL within three years depending on how well he adjusts to the North American game.