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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Can Alex Chiasson be the next Alex Burrows?

Ten years ago, 27-year-old Alex Burrows had a breakout season with the Vancouver Canucks, scoring 28 goals and 51 points. His previous career best was 12 goals and 31 points.

Burrows wasn’t drafted. He never played in the QMJHL until he was 19, and then at 20 he scored 35 goals and 70 points in 64 games. He played two seasons in the ECHL, before signing an AHL deal with the Manitoba Moose. He tallied 9-17-26 his first season in the AHL and produced 12-28-30 in 33 games his second season. Burrows was on an AHL deal to start the 2005/2006 season, but the Canucks signed him to a one-year, ELC on November 8th, 2006, and he made his NHL debut on January 2nd, 2006. He played the final 43 games that season producing 7-5-12.

He signed a three-year deal (one-way contract) that summer with a cap hit of $483,333. The kid from Pincourt, Quebec, had beaten the odds and signed a three-year deal. But his Cinderella story was far from over.

In his first full season he averaged 11:26/game on the fourth line and produced 3-6-9, but he found a role. He played the most PK minutes of any Canucks forward. He also started to become an agitator and totalled 93 penalty minutes.

In 2007/2008 he chipped in 12 goals, 31 points and 193 penalty minutes. He started out on the third line, but played much of the season with Ryan Kesler, earned more icetime, and in the final 34 games he produced 17 points while he and Kesler become one of the most annoying duos to play against in the NHL.

Then in 2008/2009, Burrows, who started the season with Kesler, started to get some 5×5 time with Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Burrows played 1,038 minutes at 5×5 that season, and spent 356 with Henrik and 335 with Daniel. Burrows scored 13-8-21 with the Sedins, compared to 5-11-16 in 548 minutes with Kesler. Burrows scored 24 goals at E, four SH and none on the PP. He had his breakout season of 28 goals and 51 points and late in the season he signed a four-year extension worth $2 million per year.

His next three seasons he produced 35, 26 and 28 goals and 67, 48 and 52 points. In the final year of his contract he was injured and produced 13-11-24 in 48 games. Burrows battled his way up from the ECHL to the AHL, earned an NHL contract and then produced well during the first three seasons, and on September 15th, 2012, as he headed into the final year of his four-year deal, the Canucks signed him to another four-year deal worth $4.5million.

Vancouver had made it to the Cup Finals in 2011. They were a good team and Burrows was one of their core pieces, but signing him for four more years at 31 was their mistake. In the four years making $4.5million, he produced 15 points (49 games), 33, 22 and 31 points. He gave them eight quality seasons, with four of them at a major bargain when he tallied 117 goals and 218 points.

CHIASSON A LATE DEVELOPER?

Nov 18, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) makes a save on Edmonton Oilers forward Alex Chiasson (39) during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Chiasson was drafted out of the USHL where he produced 50 points in 56 games and the Dallas Stars selected him 38th overall at the 2009 draft. He played three years at Boston University, then turned pro in 2012 and suited up in 57 games for the Texas Stars. He was recalled to Dallas in April of 2013 and played seven games, scoring six goals. “I was young. I thought it would be easy to score,” Chiasson said earlier this year when I asked him about his ferocious NHL debut.

He made the Stars for the 2013/2014 season and produced 13 goals and 35 points. He was traded to Ottawa on July 1st, 2014, along with Alexander Guptill, Nicholas Paul and a second round pick for Jason Spezza and Ludwig Karlsson. He 11-15-26 his first season with the Sens and signed a one-year, $1.2 million deal in the summer of 2015. He only scored 8-6-14 that season and on June 27th, 2016, he was traded to the Calgary Flames for Patrick Sieloff. He signed a one-year, $800,000 contract with Calgary and produced 12-12-24.

The Flames didn’t re-sign him. In fact, no one did. Chiasson went to Washington on a PTO and earned a one-way contract on October 4th, 2017, for $660,000. Signing with Washington turned out to be a major blessing for Chiasson. He only played 61 games due to injury, and he produced 9-9-18, but he says it was the most educational season of his career. He watched the Capitals star players up close, mainly TJ Oshie.

“I learned a lot from TJ Oshie,” said Chiasson. “He is a guy who scores in a lot of different ways. Obviously, he is a super skilled player, but he creates offence in various ways. He helped me a lot with my game, not even by talking to me, just by watching him play in how he creates chances. Not everyone is going to score 50 like Ovie, and Connor (McDavid) is going to create his own chance because not a lot of guys have his speed and skill. A lot of guys score on the powerplay, but it is a hard league to score in five-on-five. The more tools you have in your toolbox the better you are going to be and I feel I know how to use my tools now.”

Chiasson won a Stanley Cup. On September 2nd, his day with the Cup, he returned to his High School, Seminaire Saint-Francois in Quebec City, with the Cup. “I grew up there and spent a lot of time at football camps and of course playing hockey. It was special to take it back there,” he said. Despite being a Cup champion, no team offered him an NHL contract. He had various PTO offers, and decided on Edmonton.

He had a solid but not spectacular preseason, and with the urging of assistant coach Glen Gulutzan the Oilers signed Chiasson to a one-year deal. He was a healthy scratch for the first five games, but once he got a spot in the lineup he was determined to keep it. He didn’t have a chip on his shoulder he said, that was more last year, but this season it was more about using the experienced he’s gained to become a solid offensive contributor.

“I learned a lot from the playoffs in how to play the game,” said Chiasson. “I’m trying to bring that experience into my game now. Getting the opportunity to play on the top two lines really helps. Sometimes the game might not go as well as you want, but you still get the opportunity to go back for offensive draws,” Chiasson said.

Chiasson is getting more opportunities than he ever has before, and he is making the most of it. He started on the fourth line, but he just kept scoring and the coaches kept promoting him up the lineup. Now he is skating on the Oilers top line with McDavid and Leon Draisaitl and he doesn’t look out of place.

Chiasson has 15 goals and 19 points in 28 games. He is going to shatter his career-best in goals. Just like Burrows exploded at 27, Chiasson is having his coming out party at 28. Many expected him to slow down after his hot start, but that isn’t the case. In fact he’s been consistent all season.

He scored eight goals in his first 14 games this year and he’s scored seven over his next 14 games, to give him 15 goals in 28 games. His shooting percentage has come down after his hot start, which was to be expected after scoring eight goals on 19 shots, but his goal production over 14 games hasn’t really dropped. He is just shooting more, which is likely due to playing with McDavid and Draisaitl.

Chiasson has 28 shots in his last 14 games after firing 19 on net through his first 14 games. His SH% dropped from 42% to 25%, but he only went from eight goals to seven. I expect his SH% to continue to drop as he shoots more, and I don’t expect him to score 25 goals in the final 48 games (the goal/game pace he is currently on), but Chiasson is proving he knows how to score when playing with highly talented forwards.

“He has good timing,” explained McDavid. “He finds the way to hit the hole at the right time. He doesn’t take himself out of a scoring position and he knows how to go get in a position to score. A really underrated aspect of being a good scorer is knowing where to go and when to go. He has learned that and it is very impressive,” said the Oilers Captain.

Chiasson worked hard at improving his game, but as he mentioned earlier he watched the scoring habits of Oshie and has incorporated those into his game.

“If you want to score 15, 20 goals in this league, unless you’re a superstar, you’ve got to have different tools in your tool box to score. Whether it’s around the net, one-timers … those are things I’ve worked on the last two years. Maybe I wasn’t put in a position to use it before, but now … I’m feeling confident.”

PLAYING WITH MCDAVID AND DRAISAITL

Dec 1, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Alex Chiasson (39) follows the play against the Vegas Golden Knights at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

McDavid and Draisaitl read off one another very well. They don’t have the same telepathic twin connection that Henrik and Daniel seemed to have on the ice, but the Oilers young duo reads off each other very well and Chiasson is learning how to find his role with them.

“They play a lot of catch, and rightfully so,” began Chiasson when explaining how it is to play with those two.

“There are times on a couple shifts where I’m just skating up and down and not doing much, but that is part of it when you play with them. But I know when they are working their plays, they know where I’m going to be before the play is there.

“It has been shown the past couple weeks…They’ll play, they’ll play, they’ll play and then I can find the quiet area, be around the net and boom. I know it is coming to me before everyone else knows.

“Obviously everyone wishes there could be two, three, four Connor McDavids on your team, but you can’t all be the same type of players on a line. You need different aspects to mesh well. I’m not the fastest guy and it is a lot of work for me sometimes to catch up to him. He has gas for 60-80 seconds and I do not, but I try to create second opportunities and be good down low.

“If those guys get a look, obviously it is a quality look, and if they get two, three, four looks in a shift that is when it becomes dangerous. The way they can play at the speed they play that is hard to defend, and I just try to add in and learn to find the openings,” said the 28 year-old.

Chiasson’s one-timer is what differentiates him from Patrick Maroon, when he rode shotgun with McDavid and Draisaitl. Maroon was excellent around the crease and created plays off the wall. Chiasson is good at creating screens and he will battle around the crease, but he’s proven he can find the soft spot in the defence, and he scores with a very quick release.

“If you watch me I practice it a lot every day. If I don’t feel I’m shooting very well from there (low slot where he scored against Philly and Vancouver) I will put in the time. I know those are bang-bang plays, quick in and out. And you have to be ready. I think playing with those two guys I have been able to find those quality shots a lot more often than I was before,” explained Chiasson.

And Chiasson explained he’s benefitted from playing with Draisaitl early in the season, before moving up along side both of the Oilers top-two scorers.

“I think it helped playing with him early on. We are starting to read off each other better. Playing him with quite a bit this year I think he has realized what kind of player I can be for him,” said Chiasson.

Chiasson has scored 15 goals, but he was raving about a Draisaitl pass from the Flyers game that he didn’t score on, but showed him he needs to just find an opening and one of his linemates will find him.

“There aren’t many players who can make a pass like that, with that much air and it lands just as I’m skating into it. There aren’t many guys who can make that play perfect like Leon did. He’s a ridiculous passer,” smiled Chiasson.

RIGHT TIME, RIGHT PLACE

You can go through the history of the NHL and find a long list of players who got opportunities to play with two highly-skilled forwards, but couldn’t produce. It isn’t easy, and not every player can do it.

“Yes, that is fair to say. I’ve had some ups and downs and learned a lot, especially last year in Washington watching TJ Oshie and how he scored in different ways. I didn’t know that four years ago.

“I think the league is trending on the younger side, and I’ve been able to be in the league for a while now, but at the same time the player I was when I first started is definitely not the player I am today. Mentally I feel a lot more confident, also structurally how to play the game, how to manage my shifts and little things like that which might now seem like a lot for the people who watch from the outside, but for a player it makes a big difference.

“I think all those things, like you said, the experience from going through that has made me better to handle this opportunity. I’ve played on five teams, had eight or nine coaches. I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen a lot of structure.

“I think all that stuff I’ve learned and grabbed from every team, every opportunity I’ve had, the experiences I’ve had on different teams, obviously last year I learned a lot just watching guys, and I feel now being 28, confident, maybe a little more poised with myself and the opportunities I’m having, that I’m better prepared to handle it. Things have been going well,” Chiasson said.

Chiasson has become the best-bang-for-your-buck UFA signing of the summer. Very few could have predicted it, even Chiasson, but he chose Edmonton for a PTO, over a few other teams, because he felt he could help them. He’s exceeded everyone’s expectations, but he is far from satisfied.

We spoke for a good ten minutes after Friday’s game. He was wearing his Oilers hoodie, pulled tight over his head as he spoke calmly, but with conviction. He believes in himself, is also aware of his limitations, and is comfortable with his NHL journey that brought him to Edmonton.

He’d like to stay.

MONTH OF GIVING…

Thanks to Jason and Scott for their great bids and to Liquor Depot and Connor McDavid for the great packages.

Day 11: Package #1: A one-year membership at Blackhawk Golf Course courtesy of Al Prokop.

 

Blackhawk873 copy

  • As a private club member you are usually required to buy a share, which is currently $25,000, however the Black Hawk Golf Club has generously bypassed this for our auction, and the winner will be just like any other member for a year.
  • The successful bidder will receive full unrestricted golf playing privileges for the 2019 season including club storage, locker room access, use of practice range and short game area as well as clubhouse account for all purchases. The bidder will also be entitled to bring guests as per the Club’s standard guest policy.

Package #2: Courtesy of Al Prokop & Executive Chef Andrew Fung from XIX (Nineteen).

XIX-Nineteen-Edmonton-1

  • Dinner for two each month of 2019 at the great restaurant XIX (Nineteen).
  • You and a friend will play a round of golf at Blackhawk with Prokop and an Edmonton-based NHLer.

Dinner will include appetizers, entree, dessert, cocktails and wine pairing and can be used at either the Terwillegar or St.Albert locations. Last year XIX, was recognized as one of Alberta’s top new restaurants.

You can bid by listening to my show on TSN 1260 and calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today.

All the proceeds to go to help out Santas Anonymous and the Christmas Bureau.

Recently by Jason Gregor:



    • TKB2677

      Question for you. Why do you care what his shooting percentage is?

      Chiasson has 15 goals in 28 games. If he played all 82 games, that is a 44 goal pace. Now do I expect him to keep scoring at the pace he is at? Not a chance in hell. But there are 48 games left. With how much confidence he is playing with, with the clear chemistry he has with MccDavid and Leon, would it shock anyone is he score at least another 10 goals in the last 48 games?

      Anyone else think that the average Oilers fans is so used to being negative, they can’t help themselves and want to seek out and try to destroy anything remotely positive with the team? The Oilers are going to get over 20 goals from a guy making league minimum. I would have been overjoyed with 15 goals for an entire season, he’s got 15 with over half the season left. This is FOUND gold. People should be dancing for joy yet what is the common theme? “His shooting percentage is unsustainable.” What if his shooting percentage from here on drops in half for the rest of the year? OH well, that is still over 20 goals from a guy who was a PTO guy.

      • Hemmercules

        I think DoubleD is a flames fan there TKB2677. No Oiler fan in their right mind would hate on Chiasson right now. He makes minimal cash and he’s playing awesome. Absolute steal of a deal.

      • Hemmercules

        Im a negative fan too at times. I crap on the Oilers sometimes just because I’m annoyed with them. Par for the course when you have been spoon fed hope for 15 years and never given any dessert. If the team had at least been in the hunt a few times over those years maybe the negativity around here would be a little less in your face.

        • TKB2677

          Maybe Double D is a Flames fan just trying to stir the pot but all you have to do is go on twitter and follow a few of the stats guys and all they do is as soon as Chiasson scores, they list off how many goals in how many shots and his percentage and mention how it’s unsustainable. Woodguy is one of them. EVERY TIME he scores.

          For years I have been wishing the Oilers would be that team who picks those guys off the scrap heap for pennies and squeezes a real good season or 2 out of them. Arizone used to do it all the time. Arizona for years would find the Chiasson’s of the NHL who sign for league minimum and get a 20 goal season out of them. In that same year, the Oilers would sign the Jokinen’s like they did last year and get nothing out of them. It’s so awesome to see the Oilers find a guy for a change.

      • He’s probably part of the “we would be cup contenders if we kept Eberle” crowd. I loved Ebs too but I love production at a good price more, i’ll take 15 goals in 28 games at $600K over the 15pts in 32 games at $6M…

    • All Ice

      Ignore DD. Flames troll. Want proof just check out the article about the league’s stars and penalties. His complete memory loss about the Flames meeting with the league after both the Johnny hand incident and the Wideman incident shows general lack of awareness common in Flame supporters

  • Moneyball

    Chiasson sure could be a top 6 if he plays with McDavid. You get such great scoring opportunities with McDavid that you could sustain a 30% scoring rate the way Chiasson plays.

  • Frank Rizza

    If he scores 25-30 goals he probably prices himself out of Edmonton. Can they pay him $2mil per year or more? I don’t think so but maybe they find a way.

  • Ty Guy

    Too bad…… it feels like a pump and dump every year with “the winger” for McD. Sure, he can make any player better but do we need to make him train a new guy every year? would be nice to have consistent line mates…or coaches for that matter…past one year.

  • FanBoy

    I would offer him a 1 year 1.75M contract now and see what he says. I think he’ll slow down a bit but still hit around 23 goals and 35 points and probably still be in the Top 9 next year. 2 years and 1.75M is max what I would give him and that’s if he blows it off the door completely.

  • elliotsmom

    Chia has made so many mistakes thinking he is Santa Claus handing out rich contracts for long periods, especially with guys not proving themselves for an extended period of time. I would try Chaisson on other lines and with different players to see if he is still as productive as he is with Connor and Leon. If he is still at or close to where he is now, I would sign him to something reasonable, if he isn’t as productive with other guys, it would be a lesson learned. Right now with Chaisson, he is a great find for us. Credit to Chia.

    • TKB2677

      Why break up the McDavid- Leon -Chiasson line? It’s working. Don’t touch it and ride their wave. Chiasson is a big body who skates better than Maroon, is a right shot and is a smart enough player to know that his job is to give the puck to McDavid or Leon as fast as he can, go to the net, get open and be ready to get the shot off quickly. Seems pretty simply to me but it has taken a long time to find someone that can figure that out.

      For all the moaning that happened when Eberle was traded, he couldn’t figure out how to play with McDavid and he makes almost 10 time what Chiasson makes and everyone says he’s a more skilled, better player.

      • TKB2677

        Exactly. I think he proved that he can score in the bottom 6 with lesser guys. Now he is proving he can play up in the lines and hold his own. This is a great thing. The Oilers need more guys like Chiasson making a small amount of money but producing way more than their paycheck.

    • NickL89

      And who do you replace him with? It’s easy to say “anyone can produce with Connor” but like it was mentioned above, the reality is that not everyone can. The hockey gods have blessed us with this gift and the value of his contract is INSANE. If he’s traded “while the stock is high” who’s gone step up and make up the lost goals? Caggiula had a nice little run, Rattie had his moments but those seem even less sustainable now. Picking up another player producing those points would be too expensive. He may not be the long term solution but he’s a welcome hard worker for now and isn’t making the cap situation any worse!

  • FISTO Siltanen

    The writing is on the wall and if Chiasson’s agent is worth his weight in salt he’ll look towards Maroon.

    Oilers were trading him when his contract cost pennies and nobody wanted him. Maybe Chiarelli overplayed his hand. Okay.

    Maroon went to free agency and took a pay cut on a one year deal. To assume GMs don’t look at who’s playing with McDavid and instantly devalue them is naive. Not expecting Chiasson to sign for a 5% bump but if he thinks he’s scoring a Brinks truck he and his agent haven’t paid attentionm

  • Arfguy

    I am loving what Chiasson has brought to this team. He seems to be doing the right things (going to the front of the net and keeping his stick on the ice, ready for a pass). He also doesn’t seem to be coasting.

    He could go cold and I still say he was worth every bit of that PTO money.

  • Serious Gord

    The average nhl shooting percentage is 9.11% chaissons this season so far is 32% Assuming he levels out at 18% – double the league average he will pot 25 goals for the year. Not bad. And very good value.

    But he is playing on a line that costs 20 million without his piddling salary factored in.

  • RexHolez

    As a 31 year old Oiler fan growing up cheering for this team… I really don’t care anymore. It’s almost more fun making fun of how crappy they are than it is to dream about personally firing Kevin Lowe

  • Anton CP

    I’ve found an old article from Hockey’s Future:

    “Talent Analysis: Has a good blend of size and skill. Decent speed on his feet, but needs to work on skating, especially stride. Obviously needs to fill out his 6’3 frame. Can stickhandle through traffic with so much poise. Goes to the net, but will have to learn to get a bit grittier in close. Needs to be a little more patient in his own end. Likes to take off before team has secured possession. There are some concerns about his effort level. Is a very good playmaker from the winger position. Potential top-six playmaking winger, like a more talented version of Blake Wheeler.”

    Chiasson was in bad situation when he started with Stars because Nichushkin was out playing him which Stars choose to trade Chiasson for Spezza. Sens did not have any capable offense when Chiasson was there and then he was playing on lesser roles with Flames and Caps. It works out for Chiasson in Edmonton because due to the lack of depth on wings which Chiasson has more chances to shine.

  • Redbird62

    Another player from the Oilers past that has some similarities to Chiasson is Curtis Glencross. He was very much a later bloomer, and started to show his value as an NHL player with the Oilers in ’07-’08 at the age of 25 only to be scooped away by the Flames, where he went on to have a very productive 6 seasons, busting out with 24 and 26 goals campaigns at the ages of 28 and 29. Even in the strike year, at age 30 he was scoring at a 30 goal pace. The Flames got him for $1.2 million on the first contract and upped it to $2.55 million on his second deal and he played well for most of that contract term as well. Glencross was a better skater and perhaps more versatile (a lot of penalty kill time), but Chiasson still may be a hidden gem the Oilers have found. I would wait maybe until the trade deadline, and if he is still performing at this level, the Oilers need to see if they can get him for Drake like money. Not sure if their cap could handle much higher. Maroon signed for $1.75 in St. Louis so I think that could be the upper end of what he could get as a free agent.

  • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    I realize that Burrows made a career out of playing with the Sedins but he represents some of the worst traits when it comes to sportsmanship. I’d humbly suggest that we never compare a current Oiler player to player who even the league’s linesmen found reprehensible.
    In addition, Chiasson’s one-timer ability and timing is far and away above Burrows alley-rat approach to scoring.

    Chiasson deserves more.

  • Vanhellian

    Is it just me or is it like every player (Conner notwithstanding) who signs a big contract sucks suddenly? While a guy like chaisson is succeeding. More hunger. More pride… I think its reflective of where the Oilers are at as a team the last couple years… Keep ’em hungry