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Photo Credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

A Chance for Chiasson

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.

TO SUMMARIZE

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.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • SRELIOFAN

    Good. Those players SHOULD be worried. The Oilers have had too many training camps where players go into it knowing they will have a spot on the team for the season opener. Isn’t the point of camp to compete for a spot and prove that you belong in the NHL?

  • jesse says yep

    The presence of Chiasson would be good for the mentoring of a player like JJ or Cags? Someone to show them how to kill penalties and play a steady support role. The more established pros on this team the better (of course) to show the young guys how to be professional athletes.
    Of course, Chiarelli just may want someone else we can name Chia so he can pretend all of the negative comments aren’t really about him at all. I’m going with option one though.

    • Big Nuggets

      I agree. It gets underrated sometimes, the effect of veterans on young players when they show up everyday ready to work. It also helps with the grind of the season. Most young players are inconsistent, so more veterans I think means a more consistent team. That seemed to be tye lesson learned from watching the Hall Nuge Eberle line for those years. Some nights they would catch fire and light it up, most times not. Minnesota always had an unheralded top line with Parise Koivu and Pomineville. On paper you might think the Hall line is faster, more skilled, hungrier(?), but the minnesota line was a group of veterans that knew how to compete in the NHL. Most nights it seemed they were better.
      Another example was that wagon line that on some nights was the only line to play well.

  • Big Nuggets

    Hopefully Chiasson wins a spot next to Nuge and McDavid this year. It might be good to have a gangly winger out there to dig and get his stick open to recieve a pass.

  • reidgm

    Chiasson is better qualified than most of the Oilers potential wingers. But I don’t think he’ll make the team because Chiarelli will be making a trade soon for another overpriced winger.

    • Reg Dunlop

      How sad is it that a league cast-off desperate for a PTO has a real chance to make the Oiler starting line-up, possibly 4th, 3rd or even 2nd line. Additionally, if everything doesn’t pan out with Klefbom’s health and Nurse’s contract, a group of unwanted and unsigned defencemen like Bieksa, Gorges and Stoner could form a better and far cheaper D-unit than the one we will complain about this winter. And nobody is held accountable other than training staff and assistant coaches? Unbelievable.

      • the reasonable person

        Amen. I should have ranted in here instead of the JP thread. There’s no reasonable chance that this is going to be even a respectable year. There is a chance a bunch of things work out but I would think any functional team would know who their top 6 is and would not have Benning penned into the second D pairing and no NHLers available to fill in the 6 spot.

        Wow.

        • Big Nuggets

          Pitlick would have been our best winger last season, not including centers moved to wing. Hopefully the fact that there is a huge opportunity available inspires one of these guys to grab the bull by the horns. That guy should be Puljujarvi, but he has looked a bit raw so far. I really don’t know who it will be. Rattie did well last season but can he keep on scoring at a good rate? Yamamoto has the skill but he was obviously not ready last year. Has he progressed that much from a year ago? Why not just stick Khaira on his off-wing and let him do a Ferland impression. Aberg had some good games last year. Maybe a summer to think about life is what he needed to realize he needs to put everything he’s got into this season. I don’t know much about Chiasson but he was hoghly touted at one time so he must have some skill in his hands. He definately has a big frame and the experience of a Stanley Cup run with Ovi and crew. He could very well hit an upswing in his play. Caggiula, anything is possible. He hasn’t had success yet in the top 6, but he was saddled with too much responsibility before he had any NHL experience. Now at least he has got the experience.

          • Redbird62

            Certainly Pitlick might have been playing better than most of the Oilers wingers on the roster at the end of the season, but Patrick Maroon would rank well ahead of Pitlick, and Lucic’s scored as many points in the first 41 games as Pitlick did all season. Cammelleri was also collecting points at a higher clip for the Oilers than Pitlick as well. I would be hard pressed to take Pitlick over Khaira as well. That said, the Oilers need a major improvement in their wing play this year since regardless of their comparison to Pitlick, none of the above Oilers performed at a top 6 level in the last half of the season (Both Maroon and Lucic scored at 2nd line rates for the first half of the season (consistent 0.5+ PPG qualifies as 2nd line scoring for a winger. If Strome/Brodziak allow either Nuge or Draisaitl to play wing all season, then they have one bonafide first line winger. The rest is uncertain as the team has to hope Lucic, Reider, Aberg, Rattie, Puljujarvi, or maybe Yamamoto are capable of filling those other 3 wing spots. I’d also consider giving Kassian a shot at one of those roles if these others are not panning out.

          • Big Nuggets

            Certainly Maroon would rank ahead of Pitlick. Lucic also probably would, but he had opportunities to play with skill players that Pitlick did not have, and still had an unprecidented slump. Camalleri should score more points because that is all he brings to the table at this point in his career. Pitty plays a good grinding game but still has the offensive chops to pot goals when the opportunity arises. Bit your point is valid, I should have said Pitlick would have been our top RW.

          • Good one. Traveled a couple of years ago from south of Calgary. Took 1 daughter. Total of about $700.00. Team laid an egg (of course 0 goals) Octane Girls were the only entertainment. Thats when I got to the point if they dont fire the OBC, I will not be spending that money on that. $700.00 and the team doesnt bother to show up? And two years later, still no one actually held accountable. I can think of a lot of things for $700.00 that I would actually find entertaining, the only thing entertaining about this team is watching for what bone head move they will make next. Comedic relief at least(Entertaining)

  • Moneyball

    Puljujarivi’s lack of production is why Chiasson is here. I keep hearing how the Oilers have mishandled him but no good explanation as to how. I guess it’s easier to blame to Oilers rather than the player, but to my eyes Puljujarvi has simply been underwhelming. Another season in Bakersfield could really help pj. However Let’s see what he brings to camp.

  • FISTO Siltanen

    I hope both Chiasson and Upshall make the Oilers as 13th and 14th forwards. The casualty of their being in the lineup will be one of either Aberg or Rattie. And I see both Upshall and Chiasson being regulars on the 3rd and 4th lines before seasons end.

    Push the kids to the minors and

  • Redbird62

    I am not sure Kassian is being given a fair shake here. Yes his last season was not what people had hoped, and he has to shoulder some of the blame for that. But this is a guy most were enthralled with after the 2017 playoffs. The majority of the team seemed to be in funk last season and Kassian did spend the majority of his year with Letestu (who really fell off) including 5 on 5 and penalty killing. According to NHL.com, Kassian’s penalty killing was as effective as Chiasson’s with both being on the ice for 16 power play goals against in roughly similar minutes (109 for Kassian 101 for Chiasson) and Kassian’s rate of goals against on the PK went down considerably when he was killing penalties without Letestu. I am also not convinced Chiasson would have more offensive upside than Kassian either. Their career PPG is .33 Chiasson and .31 Kassian and Chiasson has had 4 times the amount of PP time. Kassian was an excellent offensive player in junior, and did well in his first two AHL stints, but just has not put it together at the NHL level for a few reasons we are all aware of though he had one decent year in Vancouver. Between called back goals and missed breakaway opportunities, 2016-17 could have been a career year for him.

    One perhaps out of the box thought: Why couldn’t Kassian be to McDavid/Nuge what Tom Wilson is to Ovechkin and Kuznetzov/Backstrom? He has the speed to keep up. I was not a fan when the Oilers picked him up, but his personal turn around combined with him not doing the ridiculous stuff he did with Vancouver, I think he can be a good player for this team.

      • Redbird62

        A little unfair to claim 2.5 years. In Connor’s rookie season, Draisaitl wasn’t even on the team to start the year, and there were not a lot of games the rest of the season where both Connor and Nuge were both dressed due to injury. Hard to argue with Todd’s deployments in 2016-17 given the success of the team compared to where they came from. During that regular season, when Leon played without Connor, the team was outshot, outchanced and outscored. Anyway, the only time all year the team was in trouble for scoring was against the Ducks in the playoffs and he again tried Draisaitl at center for a few games, which scored very well, but the line was getting badly out-shot and out-chanced. For most of last season, when Leon centered his own line, he may have scored at a higher rate than Hopkins, but the goals against were worse by a much wider margin. In Todd’s view, the team and perhaps Leon’s development were better served with him not being the guy on the second line just yet. While Leon’s results in 2015/16 were good as a center, he was getting to play with Hall who it would be hard not to give most of the credit to for the success of the line. Switching Draisaitl and Hopkins much earlier last season, would not likely have changed the teams fortunes, as that was far from the biggest problem. If Leon’s line continues to get out-chanced and outscored, Todd may decide to switch them back. I hope Leon has developed enough for that not to happen. I love his offensive ability, but his all around game has still needed improvement. I believe he will get there and hopefully soon, so we can have a strong second line and an unbelievably dominant first line.

    • FISTO Siltanen

      I like Kassian a lot. I think at the very least he should be getting some shifts on the top lines as a reward/incentive for good play in the bottom-6.

      Never thought I’d be here but I wish nothing but the best for Zach.

    • When they do something smart instead of running a clown show perhaps my opinion will change. If it ever happens i am sure it will make international news. Don’t need you either if you think your opinion is more important than everyone else’s. Sounds like you could get a job with the Oilers.

  • toprightcorner

    The Oilers did not bring in Chaisson with thoughts that he may show well and push other players. I am pretty sure they offered him a PTO a month ago, but he waited to see if he could sign a contract. He likely had a few offers but figured the Oilers gave him his best shot.

    My guess is they hope to trade Kassian and if Chaisson shows he can be that replacement, they could do so without getting much in return, the $1 mill in cap savings will be enough.

    Even if they don’t trade Kassian before the season starts, unless he shows terrible in spring training, the Oilers will sign Chaisson and he will likely be in the starting lineup to start the season.

    Upshaw makes this team no matter what. He is an energy guy, kills penalties, can take faceoffs, has lots of experience with Brodziak already and most importantly, they need his room presence. He is the veteran culture presence they need with Letesteu and Maroon gone and especially since it seems like they missed that role that Hendricks provided the year before.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Khaira is a lock barring injury to take back his spot and I would even say that Khaira will overtake Kassian in the depth chart. Loved Kassian’s play the first year he was here, but last year Kassian was invisible, I mean honestly how many games did you watch and not even realize Kassian was playing? There were a lot. I dont know if Kassian had an injury or was having some issues but he was totally invisible last year and Khaira was the team’s Kassian, and Khaira play stood out not only with the fans but the coaches. I would not be surprised at all if Kassian is traded before we hit the halfway mark of the season, the Oilers cant afford to have passengers on the bus and if Kassian cant play like he did the first year here, the Oil will trade him.

    Chassion if he does well in campy and in the 9 games in stretch, I would be the Oilers will sign him. Cagguila has the reume from college but he doesnt seems to be able to use that ability in his time with the oilers, now I will cut Cagguila some slack because of the injury he had and how it effected him, but if the Drake cant get it going, look for him to be going out the door as well. My concern there though is the Oilers have a history of not being able to get the best out of a player, but yet when moved to another team some of those former Oilers seem to do well. There has been a lot of trying to keep a guy pigeon holed into a role that they dont seem to have success in, and a failure to change that role when it clearly isnt working.

    Aberg dug himself a deep deep hole with the TM and Chia by missing practice and whatever else went on, this kid had the opportunity to be on a line with McDavid and blew it, now Aberg is so far out of the Oilers depth chart he may as well be standing in line to catch the bus outside of rogers place, because that is the only line I see Aberg getting somewhere ahead in.

    Upshall may still have heart and desire to play the game, but his body is saying yeah I think we are done here and Chaisson is going to have a better shot of landing a contract than upshall will, because he isn’t injury riddled and still young and there is still potential upside in him, and if Chaisson does well, he could easily slot into Cagguila’s spot

    Luci I believe will improve, I think Lucic has a lot of pride and last year I think his pride took a pretty good beating over the fact that he play was sub par and he wasnt getting it done and the fact that everyone was screaming how he is done… can’t play anymore and not worth the money. I dont see Lucic taking any of that lightly, I see him wanting to come back and be like he was the firt year here and proving everyone wrong and stick it up yours attitude. Not to mention if Lucic really wants out of Edmonton, he is going to have to play his ass off to get a team to want to risk taking on that term and money or he is stuck here and we are stuck with him, I hope he goes gangbusters because the Oil need him to and he needs to prove everyone wrong and to prove to everyone he can still get it done

    The Puljujarvi thing is a sore point, when Puljujarvi was playing with McDavid he seem to be getting the hand of McDavid’s style of play and potted a few goals and some points in that short stint, and then TM yanked him off the line with McDavid and had him all up and down in the line and Puljujarvi never really seemed to get the opportunity to gel with anyone and it was like they were setting him up to fail and I think this is why Puljujarvi has soured a little. TM seems to have a short leash with some people but other seem to be able to make mistake after mistake after mistake and failure to play their role, but yet hardly get yanked out of the line up or reduced playing time, it was honestly baffling at times. The Oilers seem to have shattered the kids confidence, and the thing is that Puljujarvi has the tool set to excel, the Oilers just dont seem to know how to get it all out of him nor be willing to give him the rope to get going. How many picks have we seen go by the wayside because of bad coaching and player management?