What’s the number one reason a player agrees to a PTO in Edmonton right now? It’s not because they’ll have a chance to live in the Ice District. It’s not because our city has a huge donair loving community. It’s not because the organization has its act together, far from it. Heck, it’s not even because they’ll have a chance to play with Connor McDavid. The only reason a player is signing a PTO with the Oilers right now is because of the organization’s lack of depth gives them the best possible chance to extend their National Hockey League career. Enter, Alex Chiasson.
Chiasson was once a highly regarded prospect in the Stars organization. He was regularly included among a group of future forwards that featured Radek Faksa, Reilly Smith and Cody Eakin.
After putting up 34 points as a rookie he was one of the two main pieces in the trade that landed Jason Spezza in the Big D. After being traded from Ottawa to Calgary and then winning a Stanley Cup with the Capitals the big forward now finds himself fighting for a job with Oilers.
THE COLD HARD TRUTH
It’s good news for Chiasson but horrible news for the organization that he actually has a very good shot at landing a job.
With the exception of Milan Lucic and the wing version of Nugent-Hopkins, you can make a case for Alex Chiasson to be on this team ahead of every other option the Oilers have on the wing.
The names in question are Rieder, Kassian, Caggiula, Puljujarvi, Rattie, Khaira, Aberg and Upshall.
Let’s start with Tobias Rieder who has four full NHL season’s under his belt but unlike Chiasson, the new German on the block has very little NHL playoff experience. Chiasson played 16-playoff games last season and already has 30 post-season appearances under his belt. Reider went pointless in four games with the Kings last year and that’s it for experience in the spring. Reider and Chiasson have both hit double digits in goals three times in their career. Chiasson is 5 inches taller and shoots right, something that could help him in this lineup. Rieder isn’t losing his job to Chiasson, I’m just trying to show that Chiasson is pretty much just as qualified for a spot on this team.
Zack Kassian obviously plays with an edge that Chiasson isn’t really capable of. The thing Chiasson has going for him here is that he is just as effective on the penalty kill, possibly even better, and could do it for quite a bit less money. He’s the same age, close to the same size and has more offensive upside than Kassian.
Imagine if Ty Rattie had the career that Chiasson has had up to this point. There may actually be a reason to be somewhat excited about him. Ty Rattie is 25-years old and has nine career goals, five of those goals coming in garbage time last season. Chiasson is two years older, has played 300 more games and scored 50 more goals than Rattie. Not to mention he’s much bigger, can penalty kill and has playoff experience.
The problem for Drake Caggiula is that he’s two years into his Oilers career and I’m still not sure exactly what it is he does here. He may best be described as an inconsistent third line spark plug. I’d prefer to have Chiasson on the penalty kill and if you were in a jam on the power-play I think I’d rather have the PTO possibility on the ice. Chiasson was fourth in penalty kill ice-time among Capitals forwards last season. If he can do that on a Stanley Cup champion he can most certainly do it better than Caggiula has done it with the Oilers.
If Jujhar Khaira can provide a slight uptick in his production this year while at the same time continue to crash and bang I’d most certainly take him on this club ahead of Chiasson. The problem for Khaira here is that if the team actually had confidence in him would they have felt the need to bring in Upshall or Chiasson at all? If Khaira struggles in camp and this team is in ‘make the playoffs now’ mode you could make a case that a five-year vet like Chiasson makes more sense on the daily roster. I’m a fan of Khaira and I believe he will take the next step this year but it’s not a lock.
Jesse Puljujarvi doesn’t need to clear waivers. I’ll stand by JP as much as anyone but if he is absolutely brutal in camp and Chiasson plays well there is an opening where he could be sent down to play with Yamamoto, Marody and Benson. Let be clear, this shouldn’t be the case, but with the way the Oilers have handled Puljujarvi so far, I wouldn’t put it past them.
Pontus Aberg may not have many fans within the organization. I’m a believer in Aberg but I also believe that he will need to light things up in the pre-season to actually earn a spot on this team. Aberg should be very worried about Chiasson’s presence in camp.
Scottie Upshall, like Chiasson, is here just trying to earn a job. Upshall’s best years are behind him, I’m not so sure we can say that about Chiasson.
Chiasson is bigger and more established than Aberg.
Chiasson is younger and has more upside than Upshall.
Chiasson is more accomplished and experienced than Ty Rattie.
Chiasson is a threat to Puljujarvi starting the year in the AHL. (I hope not)
Chiasson is a bigger threat offensively and can kill penalties just as well as Kassian.
Chiasson is a better all-around player than Caggiula.
Chiasson is a right-handed shot and slightly more experienced than Rieder.
So yes, there is a chance for Chiasson.