Alex Chiasson has watched the replay of his first NHL goal a few times. It came in Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks and came off a nice set up off the rush by Vernon Fiddler.
“That was a special one. That’s a nice play, too. That’s a special way to score your first goal,” Chiasson said. “Fiddler made just a great play. I didn’t think he was going to give it to me, but he faked that shot, dragged that defenseman and put it right on my stick. All I had to do was celebrate.”
And there’s been plenty to celebrate for Chiasson recently. He scored two more goals in Sunday’s 5-4 shootout win over the San Jose Sharks. The second one of that game came off another pretty assist, this time compliments of Ray Whitney, who threaded a pass right onto Chiasson’s stick.
“It’s the Wizard, anything can happen with him,” Chiasson said after the game. “He put it right on my tape, I put it between the goalie’s legs and there it was.”
And here is Chiasson, in his first full professional season, making an impact for the Dallas Stars as they try to make a push for a playoff spot late in the season.
“I know everybody looks at the goals, but it is his overall game that is more impressive,” Whitney said. “He gets goals by going to the net. All three of them are him driving to the net. He’s good with the puck in his own zone, he’s good getting the puck out of his zone, along the boards.”
The 22-year-old Montreal native currently is playing right wing on the Stars’ top line with Whitney and Jamie Benn.
“It’s been special, of course. I’m just starting to soak this in, being a sponge and trying to get the best out of this experience. And of course, once you are up here you want to stay,” Chiasson said. “I can’t complain right now, I am playing with two All-Stars. They’ve been really good to me and everybody has been really good to me around here. This has been a really good experience for me. I am really enjoying this.”
The Stars are enjoying the fruits of scouting and development. They selected Chiasson in the second round (38th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and they were patient with his development. He spent three years at Boston University, where he had 99 points (36 goals, 63 assists) in 108 games.
He played nine games with the Texas Stars late last season after his college career ended, and then embarked on his first full professional campaign this season. He got off to a bit of a slow start, registering just 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists) over his first 21 games. But things picked up as the season moved along and over his next 36 games he racked up 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists).
“It’s just progression in my game. A lot of it has to do with Willie (Desjardins, Texas head coach),” Chiasson said. “He’s made me earn a lot of things and I think he has a lot of confidence in me down there. Every day he is trying to get me a little better and as much as I am working, he is working with me. I’m glad to see that it transferred well here.”
So is Dallas, which has gotten a boost from young players like Chiasson since the team moved players like Jaromir Jagr, Derek Roy and Brenden Morrow prior to last week’s NHL trade deadline. At 6-4, 200 pounds, Chiasson brings size, skill and a lot more to the Dallas lineup and to that line with Benn and Whitney.
“What I really like is the details in his game,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “He goes to the front of the net and he’s strong there. He doesn’t give away the puck. He’s strong there and he’s patient there. He’ll protect it and hold it and try to find a guy. I think that is having a 6-4 frame, you’re not too worried about getting knocked off it all the time. It gives us some zone time. He complements those guys very well. He takes the pressure off Jamie because he’ll go to the net and play in those heavy areas and it frees Benny up to be a little freewheeling and move with Whits. He does the little things well and he’s got to keep doing them. “
And with the opportunity to do just that, Chiasson plans on making the most of it.
“The reason you play in the American League is to play in the NHL,” he said. “Luckily I made it up and now you’ve got to work to stay here.”