Over the next month I will be taking a look at current prospects in the system. The hope is to inform you about the players and give some insight into what fans should expect from them this season and where they should play during the 2012-2013 season. Most of the articles will cover the big name kids, but also a couple will be done on members of the organization that I believe people should keep an eye on. Our first prospect was Jamie Oleksiak (click here to see the article), then we jumped to Scott Glennie (article right here) and fellow forward Alex Chiasson (story here), and today we will continue with winger Reilly Smith!
Reilly Smith – RW
Reilly Smith has been one of the more interesting prospects for the Dallas Stars over the last calender year. The young right-winger was a Hobey Baker Award finalist last year (the award given to the top NCAA hockey player) after completing a superb junior year with Miami University. The former third round pick looked very promising and like he was ready to make the jump to go pro. And with Scott Glennie and Alex Chiasson (the two draft picks taken before Smith in 2009) also getting closer to being ready to push for looks with the NHL-club this fall, it looked like the Stars had a trio of promising right-wingers.
But while Glennie played out a full season at the AHL level with the Texas Stars and developed through the process, and Chiasson put together an excellent end to his college career, Reilly was the one who all of the sudden ended up in the NHL. The management and GM Joe Nieuwendyk made a big move in late March by immediately signing Smith to a contract and bringing him up down to Dallas right after Miami’s season ended. Joe was quoted as saying that the 30-goal scorer could help the Stars and be a factor as they fought to try and hold onto a playoff spot in the West. It sounded like Dallas could have add a prospect that could help the sputtering offense. He can definitely score, brought great stick work and hands, and could also create plays too. But in the end he barely saw any ice time and it was apparent that he was still trying to grasp the sudden change in the little time he did play. In the end the Stars burned a year off his entry-level contract for Smith to play three games. The final stats line came out to 3 GP, 0 points, -3 on the ice, and 2 penalty minutes.
Now the question is where the 21-year old winger fits into things this season. The Stars have top-six wingers after adding veterans Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney this summer to add some firepower to the offense. With the top-six pretty much set once other new addition Derek Roy comes back around Thanksgiving, the open spot for one of the young kids to make an impact appears to be on the 3rd line on the right side. Adam Burish is now in San Jose and Tomas Vincour seems like a good 4th line winger for this season as he continues to try and bring his offensive game up to speed with his size and strength.
But in the race for that spot on the right side of the 3rd line and a chance to see some good ice-time this season, Reilly might be the one who is on the outside-looking-in going into the fall. While the brass and staff seem high on him, and he is one of the more talked about prospects in the system right now because of that, Chiasson and Glennie appear better suited to come along this fall. Glennie’s has filled out and looked more physically prepared this summer than he has in the past, and Chiasson already has the size and skill-set to be a 3rd liner. Reilly is definitely a man to watch over the next couple of seasons, but his development might be best continued as a top-liner with Texas. The buzz is that he could stay and fans seem to love him already, but the possible finished product is not there yet and it looks like another instance of everyone getting excited about one guy and forgetting the other prospects. Look for Reilly to join the Stars top-nine in the next year or so, possibly after Jagr ‘s contract is up. But right now it couldn’t hurt for the offensively gifted youngster to spend some time playing top minutes the AHL and getting used to the pro-style of play.