This past spring the Dallas Stars had the second highest draft pick they have earned since the 1996 season when they took Richard Jackman with the 5th overall pick. Jackman never worked out and only played 38 games with the team. The Stars had the tenth overall pick this year. They were very fortunate to have extremely talented Russian winger Valeri Nichushkin, who a lot of experts thought was a top five talent, still be available when their time on the board came up.
They acted quickly and rightfully so. Nichushkin is listed at 6’4” and 202 pounds. He has excellent hands and drives the net without fear. At 19 years of age he is only going to get better and his play in the first few weeks of the season is an excellent indication of what may be in store. He gets smarter with his positioning every game. Nichuskin has listened and his effort is starting to be rewarded with increased ice time and scoring chances.
There is a great future in store for the Stars marquee forward. Some thought he could be the Stars Calder trophy candidate, the NHL’s version of rookie of the year. He may still be but another Star already has a leg up on #43.
In 2009 the Stars had the 8th overall pick. The only other time since Jackman they drafted higher than 10th. They selected Scott Glennie who has shown flashes of promise at both the Junior and AHL levels but has never quite lived up to his promised potential and has yet to crack the NHL roster. The pick looked like a good one at the time and still might be, but the real story of that draft and the real Calder candidate of this season is who the Stars took with their second pick that year – Alex Chiasson.
Alex Chiasson was selected in the second round of the 2008 draft with the 38th overall pick. He declined to join the Stars minor league organization. Instead he was on his way to a college career with Boston University. In his three years at the U he became a point a game scorer.
After graduation, his very brief run with the Texas Stars showed similar results. Performance awards promotion. After a just a few games in Austin, Alex was given his first chance in Dallas. He has yet to look back.
Last season he played in seven games before going down with an injury. In those seven games he had seven points. Six goals and one assist and was a +3 player. Every time he was on the ice good things happened. Unfortunately injury ended his season and the momentum he had brought to the team. The Stars missed the playoff again but Alex’s performance gave fans some new hope.
This season he has continued his torrid and exciting pace. After 12 games Alex has 9 points. 5 goals and 4 assists. He is ranked third in both points and goals among rookie players. He is as big as Nichuskin but is older and more mature as a player.
Alex seems to find the right place, the right seam, the right passing lane. He skates extremely well and seems to be in the right spot at the right time. Coaches will tell you that luck may find hard work but hard work will always find luck. Chiasson is a player that creates his own luck. He creates his own space, he creates his own time and he creates his own goals.
The league might be on watch for #43 and his undeniable rise to stardom but they are going to be blindsided by #12.