Jason Dickinson: The Unsung Hero
Out of the Stars’ young players, Hintz and Heiskanen have gotten most of the attention, but Dickinson has shone just as brightly.
A couple of weeks ago, I broke down my “Three Stars” of the first round series between the Dallas Stars and the Nashville Predators. I felt like I could have included half the roster given how well the Stars played, but tried to keep the list of honorable mentions short.
That meant players like Esa Lindell, Roope Hintz, and Radek Faksa got the short end of the stick despite fantastic performances in the first round. But today, we’re going to talk about a different, more low profile player who missed the cut: Jason Dickinson.
I’ve been a fan of Dickinson ever since he was drafted. Earlier this season, I wrote about how he deserved a chance in the Stars’ top six due to his underrated offensive play. He proceeded to score two goals and an assist later that night, obviously inspired by my encouraging words.
Well, it took longer than I thought, but Dickinson finally started to get consistent minutes in the top six once the Stanley Cup playoffs started. The result? Three goals and two assists in 11 postseason games. Not world-shattering numbers, but impressive for a young skater who’s in his first full NHL season.
Besides, the scoresheet can sometimes be a bit misleading. Dickinson has helped drive offense all postseason, creating quality scoring opportunities. Take for instance this breakaway from Friday night’s win:
Dickinson puts the puck off Binnington and off the post. pic.twitter.com/PTwVcB0Nmb— Hockey Playoff Szn Dylan Nadwodny (@dnadders) May 4, 2019
If you look closely, you can see that Dickinson actually gets the puck between Binnington’s arm and torso. He had the goaltender beat, but the puck hit Binnington’s side and then redirected into the post. If he had gotten that shot off just an inch further left (if even that), it would have been a good goal.
Of course, while Dickinson is underrated offensively, that’s not where he excels. Dickinson is one of the team’s best two-way players, and is arguably one of their best forwards on the penalty kill. And unlike many defensive players, he hasn’t earned that reputation based on blocking shots or getting in the way — rather, he is active in attacking the puck carrier and creating turnovers.
For instance, here’s arguably the best play by Dickinson on Friday in a game chock-full of them:
Here's a Seguin breakaway from last night, courtesy of Jason Dickinson: pic.twitter.com/CPQ92vsabL— Tyler Mair (@mairican) May 4, 2019
As you can see, Robert Thomas heads towards the boards as he tries to enter the offensive zone. Dickinson skates at an angle so that he will catch Thomas right after he enters the offensive zone, at which point Dickinson uses his stick to poke-check the puck away. He then briefly looks down the ice before flipping the puck across the neutral zone, giving Tyler Seguin a breakaway opportunity.
In summary, Dickinson is able to stop Thomas’ advance into the offensive zone, take away the puck, and immediately create a breakaway for arguably his team’s best offensive player. Had Seguin (or Mats Zuccarello) scored there, every hockey fan that uses Twitter would have seen that play sooner or later. Instead, I had to dig up the footage and capture it myself.
And that’s just one play. Throughout the evening, Dickinson was shutting down the St. Louis offense on the penalty kill and even-strength alike. He’s been fantastic all postseason long, and there’s little reason to believe he can’t keep it up heading forward.
So let’s take a moment to appreciate Jason Dickinson. When it comes to the Stars’ young stars, he may lack the speed of Roope Hintz or the finesse of Miro Heiskanen, but make no mistake — he’s been just as impressive.
We could praise Dickinson after every game for the rest of the playoffs and he would still be under appreciated. Holy crap has he been great this postseason.— Tyler Mair (@mairican) May 4, 2019