A brief update on a few of the top prospects in the system as we continue to look ahead to the trade deadline...
** Austin Smith has seven goals in his past five games, including a four-goal outburst against Renssalaer earlier in the month. In back to back games this weekend, Smith had just one goal and saw his scoring streak end with a pointless game against Clarkson. Smith continues to lead the nation in scoring with 33 goals on the season, although he's fallen behind the points lead by four points. Austin remains a candidate for the Hobey Baker but with Colgate struggling to make the NCAA tournament it's unlikely he'll be a favorite at the end of the season.
One thing about Austin that needs to be pointed out is his maturity on the ice. He's 23 years old and playing against younger players in the ECAC, which will certainly be held against him when attempting to project his future in the NHL. What we're hearing is that his leadership abilities on and off the ice should help offset those concerns (as well as the ones with his size). While his advanced age might add a grain of salt to his breakout senior season, it's also the result of hard work and maturity. He's been described as a "man among boys" out on the ice this season and it's going to be exciting to see just how far he can go.
** For those of you lucky enough to see Reilly Smith on Friday night on CBS Sports Network, you saw exactly why fans are so excited about what he could do for the Stars in the near future. He finished with just one goal and hardly put up a big scoring demonstration, yet he proved that he is more than just a goal-scorer. Physical and resourceful on defense, Smith is also one of the most fluid players you'll see in transition and has been a major reason for his team's success this season.
More on Reilly Smith and a few other prospects after the jump.
One question that continues to come up is whether Reilly Smith will make the jump to the AHL next season, as he has one year of eligibility remaining at Miami. The Stars seemed to hint he'd make the jump earlier this season, while Smith has said several times he wants to get his degree. Today the Stars had a great article on Smith and his path to becoming one of the Stars best prospects, and they touched on the situation here:
Besides the great experiences he's had on the ice, getting his degree would be a highlight of his time away from the pond.
"It's really important," Smith said. "It puts it on paper all the hard work that collegiate athletes put into their education and how hard it is to balance the lifestyle of daily school and playing high-level hockey."
Expect the Stars to also offer their take about his course of action for the coming year.
"We'll have discussions with him and assess at the end of the year where we're at. But that's something we'll have to work out," Jackson said. "He looks like he's close to taking the next step. We'll just have to discuss that with him and his family and see what the next step will be."
** We haven't mentioned him much this season as he's fought through injuries and a trade, but Brett Ritchie is putting together a solid season after heading to the NIagara Ice Dogs. The big winger has nine goals and seven assists and is an extremely impressive plus-15 -- in just 19 games with his new team. Ritchie was drafted as a power forward with good ability at both ends of the ice and after heading to a legitimately good team seems to finally have his season on track again.
** Alex Chiasson has a big month in February, with 11 points (3G, 8A) in just six games. The junior has always played a tough power forward style, but this season has really found his groove. Scoring at 1.21 pts/game pace, he's cut his penalties down significantly and has become a dangerous weapon on the power play as well. There's some debate as to whether Chiasson will make the jump to the AHL as well, although his name has been mentioned several times by the team when discussing players going up a level.
** Alex Guptill, after having a magical December and January, has cooled off. Just one goal in his past six games, although it's important to remember he's still a true freshman.
** Jack Campbell in February: 7 games, 3-3-1, 4.33 GAA and an .879 save percentage.
** Finally, a note about Scott Glennie. The much maligned first-round draft pick for the Stars got off to a slow start this season with Texas but has 18 points (7G, 11A) in his past 21 games. He's seeing big minutes now with Texas and was easily the best player on the ice last week against San Antonio. He's playing physical and is pushing the play forward up ice, but still has trouble creating offense for himself at times. While he's still far from being the player many had hoped he would be by this point, it's still way too early to call Glennie a true bust.