Most of the draft prognosticators had Jason Dickinson going in the second round of this summer’s NHL Draft. Dickinson thought he had a shot to go in the first round, and he turned out to be right.
The Dallas Stars used their second pick of the first round – 29th overall – to select Dickinson, a forward who played with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League.
“I was getting a little worried there when it came down to the last few picks (of the first round),” Dickinson said . “It doesn’t matter if it’s 29th or 21st, it’s a dream to be selected, and by Dallas. It’s a great city, great team as well. I am just excited.”
Adding to the excitement was the guy calling his name. Mike Modano announced the Stars’ selection at the podium in New Jersey.
“That was unbelievable. He’s a hockey legend,” Dickinson said. “To have him recognize me is just unreal.”
The Stars had projected Dickinson, who turned 18 just a few days after the draft, as a player they could grab late in the first round. The 6-foot-1, 179-pound forward can skate, has superb puck skills and possesses strong offensive instincts.
“He’s a big, strong kid, strong skater, plays 200 feet, plays hard on both ends and has good skills,” said Stars General Manager Jim Nill. “He’s intriguing. He’s got a little bit of a Ryan Kesler type of game to him. We like his size. He’s got good puck skills, can play a physical game. He was someone we had ranked pretty high.”
Dickinson, a left shot who is a center but played primarily wing last season, registered 47 points (18 goals, 29 assists) in 66 games with Guelph. He picked up two points (one goal, one assist) in five playoff games.
“It was OK, could have been better,” Dickinson said of his 2012-13 campaign. “I had some ups and downs, peaks and valleys this year. Overall, I think it was a pretty good season.”
He won a gold medal with Canada at the 2013 U18 World Championship in Sochi, Russia in the spring, picking up one assist in three games before being sidelined with an injury.
“It was unbelievable,” Dickinson said. “International hockey is always crazy. Playing with some of those guys was a little bit of a shock because you didn’t expect it from them. You play with and against guys in the OHL, but the guys from the WHL and QMJHL you really don’t know or hear about. It was a real eye-opener.”
Dickinson would like to play for Canada at the World Junior Championship this coming year, but he knows it might be a bit of a long shot. If he made it, he’d likely be one of the youngest players on the roster.
“If I don’t get invited I am not going to get down on myself. I know this isn’t necessarily my age group, this isn’t my year,” he said. “So, it’s not the end of the world for me, but it would be a great experience to go there.”
There are plenty of goals for his season in juniors. There are the things all young players want to work on – becoming bigger, stronger and quicker. There’s also the issue of consistency, another challenge for any young player.
“Consistency is the biggest thing everybody said to me,” Dickinson said. “I think they want to see a little bit more of an offensive push from me, see me put up more points than I have been. … I expect to take a bigger role, playing mainly power play and not so much penalty kill just to preserve my energy for the point producing area. I think that is where my team will need me most.”
This will be Dickinson’s third season with Guelph. He made the OHL’s Second All-Rookie Team in 2011-12 after picking up 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) in 63 games. His 47 points last season ranked fifth on the Storm. This season he’s not only looking to take on a bigger load in the points department, but in a leadership role as well.
“It is really the time to teach the younger kids what it takes, kind of guide them on the right path the way some of the older guys guided me,” Dickinson said. “To take that role on is something special. I am going to run with it.”
The Ontario native spent some time in Texas recently, attending the Stars’ development camp in Frisco at the beginning of July. The Stars will tell you that players aren’t being evaluated at the camp, but it was hard not to notice Dickinson, especially during some of the more competitive drills.
“He’s got a good combination of skating, skill and instincts,” said Stars Assistant General Manager Les Jackson. “He’s really competitive and he understands the game. This kid has a good foundation.”
And, the Stars believe, a bright future as well.