Alex Chiasson made his NHL debut on April 13th. In the seven games in which he participated Chiasson dropped six goals and got fans giddy with excitement. The big French-Canadian forward drove to the net with regularity and was rewarded regularly. The expectations have risen significantly for Chiasson in what will officially be his rookie season.
The expectations for Chiasson in 2014 aren't based on realistic evaluations of his 2013 performance for the most part. At the end of the season I wrote this post about the troubling aspects of his debut. The following image was in that post:
This is an image of all of the shots taken by Chiasson in his initial seven game run. For one, there aren't many. Secondly they're mostly from within a few feet of the net. Thirdly those are all with Ray Whitney on the ice. Finally, he scored on 46% on the shots he took. These circumstances aren't likely to repeat.
As an example, Chiasson's first NHL goal:
The goal is unquestionably awesome, but over the course of the season how sustainable is it? Should anyone expect Chiasson to be a big part of the offensive attack as a rookie? I don't think it's reasonable.
He can be a big member of the team though. He has the size to make an impact if he uses it. At 6'4 he and Valeri Nichushkin are the tallest forwards on the roster. Nichushkin is significantly bulkier at the moment. If there is one thing Chiasson can do as a rookie to set himself up for long term success it's add bulk. The Stars website lists him at only 187 pounds.
His size could make him a useful member of the second power play unit. The Stars powerplay has had difficulty screening opposing netminders with skilled players for years. Chiasson proved what he was able to do when near the net in his short debut run last season. Given the opportunity to work on the powerplay, perhaps he can pick up some garbage goals to help the Stars anemic powerplay improve.
Chiasson should be a big part of things for the Stars going forward, but the impact he will have on the 2014 season is anyone's guess. He has the size and skill set to be a useful member of the 2014 roster, and he should continue to develop over the course of the season. The most realistic expectation for Chiasson is as a useful bottom six forward with the potential to be a third line scoring option as the season progresses.