Stars 2009-10 NCAA prospects update

By Mike Farkas

The bulk of the Stars prospects are forwards and their college ranks are no exception. With six forwards and one defenseman currently seeing action in the NCAA, most of them are transitioning from Junior ‘A’ programs. Most of Dallas’ college prospects are on the younger side and have a lot of time to develop before they will be called upon at the professional level. 

Alex Chiasson, RW – Boston University
Ht: 6’4”  Wt: 195 lbs.
Acquired: 2nd round (38th overall) in 2009 (age: 19)

Chiasson moved from Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL), a team where he was the scoring leader in the only year he donned their jersey, to Boston University this past fall. The transition has been pretty seamless so far for the Quebec native. He’s tied for second on the team in goals with five (nine points in 15 games in all). Chiasson made quite the splash in his collegiate debut – scoring twice against rival UMass. 

Chiasson will steadily rise through the Terriers ranks. He seems to have all but secured second-line winger duty now after spending some time on the third line to start the year. As he continues to gain foot speed and strength, he will be a force to be reckoned with in front of the opposing net. 

Curtis McKenzie, LW – Miami University
Ht: 6’1”  Wt: 190 lbs.
Acquired: 6th round (159th overall) in 2009 (age: 18)

Through his first 22 collegiate games, McKenzie is tied for second on the club in assists with 11 while leading the way in penalty minutes with 42. He’s fit right in from the get-go and if he sticks around campus for a few more years he could become one of the bigger fan favorites. With a lot of older players set to take flight in the next couple years, McKenzie will get a chance to really shine as soon as next season.

His skating should continue to improve and combined with his top-notch work ethic, McKenzie will become a force at both ends of the rink in all situations. McKenzie can add more to his frame and become solid power forward as he already does great work along the wall. 

Nico Sacchetti, C – University of Minnesota
Ht: 6’0”  Wt: 186 lbs.
Acquired: 2nd round (50th overall) in 2007 (age: 20)

Sacchetti spent a lot of time on the bottom two lines last year as a freshman but is getting increased chances (but is still playing all over the lineup) this year and it shows. He’s already matched or surpassed last year’s mark in goals, assists and points in 15 fewer games.

Regarding his less-than-earth-shattering numbers of 11 points in 21 games, it might be that Sacchetti is still adapting to the idea of being a smaller fish in a bigger pond but it might just be a confidence issue. Sacchetti has really lit the world on fire since high school (including a year in the USHL), he might be a hot streak or a conducive line combination away from breaking out. Right now though, it appears that he’s not using his full potential and is reluctant to shoot. 

Austin Smith, RW – Colgate University
Ht: 5’11”  Wt: 170 lbs.
Acquired: 5th round (128th overall) in 2007 (age: 21)

Smith debuted with a strong first season at Colgate University and was one of the team leaders in all offensive categories. This year he’s been even better. He leads the club in assists (17) and points (25), ahead of senior David McIntyre (former Stars prospect, current close friend of Smith). Smith has learned a lot from McIntyre, including how to be a consistent scorer – he has scored in 12 of his past 15 games.

The high-energy, high-scoring forward is a tenacious player and very good on the forecheck. As he continues to grow, learn and fill out his pretty diminutive frame, he’ll become a more and more intriguing professional prospect. Since he joined Colgate, he has seen top line, or at worst, top-six minutes – once older players, like McIntyre and Brian Day (NYI), start to move on to the pros, will Smith be able to shoulder the load? He certainly has the skills at this level to do so. He will need to mature a bit though, as he’s prone to letting his emotions get the best of him.

Reilly Smith, RW – Miami University
Ht: 6’0”  Wt: 170 lbs.
Acquired: 3rd round (69th overall) in 2009 (age: 18)

Yet another Junior ‘A’ player by Dallas that has moved on to college in 2009, Smith is looking promising, but he needs to add more bulk to be effective. He’s intelligent and has a high level of skill and a lethal shot. Smith has notched four goals and seven points in his first 22 games with arguably the best team in college hockey this year. Of course, he’ll need to get more experience before he’s given the green light to log higher quality minutes. 

Many have been impressed with what Smith has shown and he could become one of the premier players in Oxford, Ohio for years to come. 

Scott Winkler, C – Colorado College
Ht: 6’3”  Wt: 211 lbs.
Acquired: 3rd round (89th overall) in 2008 (age: 19)

Winkler’s 10 scoreless games in his collegiate career may look uninspiring until you see why he’s been limited to just 10 games. He was off serving national team duty for his native Norway. For the fourth time in as many years (second with the U20 team), Winkler joined the Norwegians for a Division-1 junior tournament. On the road, he put on quite the show. He led all of D-1 Group B in goals (6), assists (8) and points (14) while being named the Best Forward of the bunch in five games of work. It wasn’t just individual awards that made this international experience valuable either – Winkler propelled Norway into the top division for the 2011 World Junior Championships.

Winkler has added some bulk to an already sizeable frame. Combined with the fact that he’s a naturally smart and gritty player with a high level of determination, he should eventually get the North American game down. It helped him majorly on the international scene, so it’s only a matter of time before it helps him with Colorado College.

Mike Bergin, D – RPI
Ht: 6’3”  Wt: 200 lbs.
Acquired: 7th round (209th overall) in 2008 (age: 21)

After an injury-shortened freshman campaign, Bergin had a lot to prove in 2009-10. He has played in 15 games this season (3 goals, 6 points, leads club defensemen with 29 PIMs), but has been nagged a bit by injuries again. Besides an advantage in size and age, Bergin possesses a lot of smarts on the rink and uses it to his advantage at the NCAA level. He’s not afraid to use his size either and can get very physical when called upon. 

The Kanata, Ontario native was granted a medical redshirt for his short circuited freshman season. So perhaps a “bonus” year down the line will be in order and allow Bergin to grow into a premier ECAC defenseman. It could be an exciting time for RPI, as they have quieted recruited a number of underrated, blossoming talents – Bergin included.

Pat McGann, G – Quinnipiac University
Ht: 5’11”  Wt: 160 lbs.
Acquired: 7th round (223rd overall) in 2005 (age: 23 on 1/27/10)

McGann has yet to see any game action since March 14, 2008 – an 11-0 loss to Harvard. It appears his hockey career has advanced about as far as it can at this point.