Dallas Stars 2013 Season Review: Alex Chiasson

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Chiasson was a breath of fresh air and a much needed reminder of the future for the Dallas Stars

There aren't really words to clearly describe Alex Chiasson's introduction to NHL hockey, yet there's so much to say.

First off, at the risk of sounding cheesy I would venture to say that his first 7 games were more about the NHL's introduction to Alex Chiasson, but that's going a bit overboard.

Chiasson came into the year as one of the most highly touted prospects in the Stars system, a bit like Reilly Smith. Like Smith, the NHL work stoppage meant that he wouldn't have a chance to try out for the NHL team until later, so he started in the AHL. After a bit of a tentative start he began tearing it up in the American league and became one of the Texas Stars' go to forwards. This became even more apparent when the NHL season started and scoring leaders like Cody Eakin and Reilly Smith graduated to the NHL level. While they did so, Chiasson stayed in the AHL and became one of the baby Stars' premier threats on offense along with recently acquired Justin Dowling, putting up 35 points in 57 games. Now to the NHL.

After the whirlwind of a trade deadline that had many of us scratching our heads and despairing about the future of the Stars team, Chiasson was called up to fill a hole left by the exodus of veteran forwards. At first it seemed like Chiasson would fill in a bottom-six role while players who had played in Dallas all year would move up into the open top-six slots. Chiasson soon changed that though. Not long into his time in Dallas, he was put on the top line with Jamie Benn and Ray Whitney and subsequently helped lead the charge after the trade deadline which put the Stars into playoff position.

Chiasson went a point per game in 7 games with six goals and one assist. He was a consistent scoring threat who meshed perfectly with the styles of Benn and Whitney. That line seemed to be perfect with his addition to it. His smart, two-way, puck possession style of play went along great with the playmaking of Ray Whitney and the north-south power forward center style Jamie Benn plays. Alex Chiasson's goals came primarily by driving to the net with his stick down and head up.

One of the even more surprising things about Chiasson's game was his play away from the net. In the defensive zone he was great at chasing pucks and battling to regain possession, zone exits seemed to go smoother with him in the defensive zone. On top of that his play with the puck on his skill looked that of a veteran, he was able to hold on to the puck and protect it until a passing or clearing option made itself available, when he'd take full advantage. Then, in the offensive zone he crashed hard on the forecheck and played a great cycle game which brought him towards the net and into the scoring areas where he profited. This all around game bodes very well for Chiasson's future.

This was his first couple weeks in the NHL we're talking about and he still has a lot to learn; he can still get a lot better which - even though his production is unsustainable - is pretty scary/awesome for Stars fans. As Josh Lile noted earlier, the sheer pace of Chiasson's scoring along with where all of his shots came from is unsustainable. While this is true, it still has a huge positive side to it. The vast majority of his scoring chances came from right in front of the net, which shows that he drives to the net and can actually connect with defenders on him. He's not only smart enough to go to the front of the net for scoring opportunities, but he continually showed the strength to outmuscle defenders and keep his stick firmly on the ice to get a shot off while driving.

We all knew that Alex Chiasson was a top Dallas Stars prospect going into this season, but the work he put in after his call-up to the NHL was a revelation. Nobody expected that kind of play from him, he looked like a player with a lot more experience than 3 NCAA seasons and only 57 games in the AHL. He was a major catalyst for the run the Stars went on following the trade deadline and, while I don't want to overemphasize, it's no coincidence that his injury went along with the team's backslide down the stretch. While only a very, and I emphasize VERY, small sample size, Chiasson gave Stars fans a lot of belief and new optimism for the future towards the end of a frustrating and disappointing season and proved that he should be an important part of the Stars' success in the future.

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