Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Find the next Alex Chiasson

Last year, I said the Oilers should search for the next Patrick Maroon: an undervalued forward who could play alongside skilled players and score 15-plus goals. I mentioned Josh Leivo, Brett Connolly, Daniel Carr, and lastly, Alex Chiasson. I argued they should find the next Maroon instead of paying the big winger free-agent money. I thought Maroon would get too much money and term and the Oilers couldn’t afford that. Maroon didn’t get either, although he gave St. Louis a sweetheart deal to be closer to his son.

Now, the Oilers are in a similar position with Chiasson. Chiasson has certainly made good on his $650K contract, scoring 17 goals and 27 points already. Chiasson’s on pace for 25 goals and 40 points, but his current totals already would be just fine for the Oilers’ investment.

Can a team with such a lack of offence up front really let a likely 20-goal scorer go? Yes. The Oilers cap situation isn’t great and that might be an understatement. They have to be sure they’re not adding another bloated contract to the salary cap.

Chiasson has a 21 percent shooting percentage, nearly double his career average of 13.1 percent. He’s never been over 12 percent before last season with Washington, when he shot 15 percent. If the Oilers sign Chiasson, they need to pay him for what he’s going to do going forward not the hottest season of his career. Chiasson has 1 goal in his last 19 games.

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The Oilers should follow the same path they did with Maroon. Flip him at the deadline for draft picks or prospects and sign or trade for some players who might score 15 goals on a dirt-cheap contract. The Oilers used this strategy this season and it paid off. The problem is they only used this strategy, betting on a group of extremely raw wingers and one of their centers playing the wing. They re-signed Ty Rattie, signed Chiasson after his professional try-out, and signed Tobias Rieder to a one-year contract worth $2 million. Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto both made the team out of camp.

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Who can replace Chiasson next season on a cheap contract? Josh Leivo is on a 35-point pace since he was traded to Vancouver. Brett Connolly is on pace for 19 goals and 42 points in Washington, but is an unrestricted free agent this summer.

LW Daniel Carr hasn’t broken into the NHL full-time yet, although he has 23 goals and 57 points in 40 games with Vegas’ American Hockey League affiliate in Chicago. Carr’s an intriguing option because he’s fast and cheap.

LW Brandon Pirri is another Vegas winger I’d have time for. Pirri scores goals. Pirri has 15 points in 21 games with the Golden Knights this season after tearing up the AHL. Vegas could re-sign Pirri, but I’d offer him a contract worth a million and some if he made it to free agency. Pirri’s never made more than $1.1 million in a season and could score some goals alongside Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl.

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LW Charles Hudon is a skilled winger who might be on the way out of Montreal. Hudon scored 30 points last season but hasn’t had the same success this season. He has 5 points in 31 games and playing almost three minutes less per game. Hudon hasn’t been a huge goal scorer in the NHL, but he’s scored over 27 goals twice in the AHL. His 5-percent shooting percentage might go up playing with one of the Oilers’ talented centers.

RW Richard Panik has played with skilled players before. Panik has a 22-goal season to his name and is responsible defensively. He already makes $2.8 million, so he’d be one of the more expensive options listed here. I’d be tempted to take Rieder’s money and hand it to Panik.

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LW Anthony Duclair has 11 goals and 17 goals with Columbus this season, but head coach John Tortorella isn’t the biggest fan. Duclair is young and will probably be on another cheap contract next season. Duclari’s on pace for 16 goals. Sure, he’s already on his fourth NHL team, but the Oilers badly need wingers who can score.

The Oilers need more scoring wingers. They’ll have to add some established options, but their cap issues mean they’ll need another Chiasson or two if they want to remedy their depth scoring issues next season. Chiasson’s provided value, but they should search for the next cheap winger who can score 15 goals and cash Chiasson in for picks this trade deadline.

    • Bottom of the barrel and I bet none of them actually want to play for this tire fire of an organization. Keep it up Katz, you will tune us out completely eventually. Stay on the same path, you will be lucky to find people in any capacity to work along side Kim Jung Lowe or even ice a complete roster. Here is a clue for you, if you are going to lie about Mac-T and say he is not involved in Hockey Ops, perhaps he should not be listed as VP of Hockey Operations on the Oilers website. Scott Howson VP player development. The comedy writes itself.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    I would fist talk to Chaisson agent and see what they are looking for in term and money and go from there, if Chaisson wants the moon and stars then you trade him, if he is looking for 1.5mil then that isnt so bad and he’d be worth signing because yes he has gone stone cold but if that can get back on track, the Oilers could use someone who can pot 15 goals a season, scoring is one of the biggest things handcuffing this team. Unless the return for Chaisson is half decent then trade him, but if it isnt, then why trade him? You can always make a deal next season for him if he doesnt work out here. The Oilers still have a ton of guys that arent doing anything that make way moe money, I would be tying to dump them before I trade off a guy who is making peanuts, like I said I would see what Chaisson is looking to do and the numbers, and then go from their teams are still going to make a pitch but you need the right return, dont make a deal that isnt worth making for the sake of making one, Chia did enough of that already

      • OriginalPouzar

        His cap hit is $1M and he is a UFA next year – cap is a non-issue as someone (JP, Malone, etc.) would get re-assigned in order for the roster spot.

        He is also not too old, he’s 26.

        He would be a good add as the Oil will be sellers at the deadline and when a few players are moved out, they will need bodies to fill out the roster and don’t want to decimate Bakersfield.

  • toprightcorner

    I think the Oilers could sign Chaisson for under $1.5 mill. He will regress to his normal offense, but that is still 12-14 goals. He is said to be really good in the room and at minimum is a 3rd liner that can PK and PP. The fear he had of fighting for a PTO last year would probably entice him to take a 2 year deal worth $1.4-$1.7 mill a year. That is a value contract. If he want’s over $2 mill, pass, but the Oilers need more depth guys scoring 10-12 goals a year. Chaisson gives a 3rd line some offence and can move up the lineup in case of injuries.

    I try to resign Chaisson at a raise, but still value contract.

    • Oilman99

      Totally agree, there can’t be an over pay to a guy that has a career year, and will regress back to his old numbers next year. Offer realistic money to take it or leave it,that being said,his veteran leadership is a good thing.

  • Danger Pay

    Here’s a novel idea, how the Oilers develop players into assets instead of waiver wires/problem contracts? You know, build a prospect up and sell high?! Just a thought from a tier 10 fan.

    • HockeyRooster

      Your logic is unwanted by BN and the OBC. Just because all of the successful teams in the NHL do this, doesn’t mean its how you win hockey games. Oh wait, it is and you are 100% right, but there is no one in Oilers management listening. I heard they know a thing or two about winning.

    • toprightcorner

      That is what you would want to do, unfortunately the Oilers need to fill about 4 forward spots with capable players and even if you had 4 prospects that were ready for the step, there is no chance you want 4 rookie forwards on the team at the same time.

      A team should always hope to sign or trade for a value contract each season, it just so happens that with the cap crunch, the Oilers need about 3 next year and 2 the year after. After that, you sign a value contract and bring up a player that is over ripe from the AHL to fill out your roster. Thats how you keep your cap in order

    • OriginalPouzar

      This is exactly what they’ve been doing with their draft picks over the last three years or so and, because of it, there are a swarth of prospects on the verge of proving NHL readiness – Benson, Marody, Jones, Bear, Lagesson

    • toprightcorner

      Carr plays for Vegas and that is a very tough team to crack into the lineup. He has 1.4 pt/g in AHL this year and last year had 16 pts in 36 games in MTL. He makes the bottom 6 on the Oilers with ease at min salary.

      Hudon had 30 pts in 72 games in his first NHL season. He has had a rough go of it this year but is a low risk at a league min contract that can score 30 pts or send to the minors with zero cap implications. This is how you get value contracts, players who have shown promise, but no room for them on their team or having a bad season with past success.

  • Derkus the circus

    Branden Tanev is another player id be looking at. Decent winger with upside that is a UFA. Jets will be hard pressed to keep him with Laine and Connor also up for new deals.

  • Serious Gord

    If by finding the next Chaisson you mean a 30-game-blip-in-career-performance-whilst-playing-on-the-same line-with-one-of-the-greatest-players-ever, then no.

    They shouldn’t be looking for another example. What they should be doing is selling/trading him ASAP be fire he completely returns to pumpkin form.

    • toprightcorner

      Would take at least $4 mill to sign him. Could still be a good contract but not a cheap value contract that the Oilers need a couple of so they can get 25-30 goals combined out of 2 players while paying less than $2 mill combined.

  • toprightcorner

    The Oilers need to add 3 forwards who can score 12-15 goals. If they had that this year, they would likely hold a wildcard spot. You want to add these a cheap as possible.

    I would seriously look at Panik – he will cost more than a typical value contract, but should be a little less than his current one. I see him as 20 goal potential on the top 6 that could be signed for $1.5 – $1.75 mill X 2. Not a super value contract, but likely to outperform it. He scored 22 goals 2 years ago playing on a skilled line in CHI so should have success in the top 6. In this case, I would like to see if the Oilers could trade a 2020 3rd for him at the deadline and test drive him. If he clicks, great, you sign him before July 1. If he doesn’t click, I would easily give up a 3rd round in 2 years to save a multi year contract.

    I like Duclair/Carr/Pirri/Hudon all on $750k or less deals. Carr is leading the AHL by a wide margin playing way less games scoring 1.4 pt/g and has 10 PP goals

    Other options to look at

    1) Brett Connolly has averaged 15 goals a season the past 3 seasons. Coming off a 2 year $1.5 mill contract. Would probably have to sign him for around the same money so not a super value contract but decent and could play middle 6.

    2) Brandon Tanev – a real poop disturber and has 13 goals and 24 pts in 59 games. Made $1.15 mill, could maybe be had for $1.4 as a UFA. Could see WPG resiging him before July 1.

    3)Tyler Innis – Has struggled last couple years with injuries but has had three 20+ goal seasons in the NHL. Can be signed for the same $650k deal he is finishing. Has 7 goals in 34 games with TOR before injuries.

  • TrueBlue

    Whoever the new GM/Management team is, I feel that the oilers really need to find 1-2 value contracts a year while they draft and develop and build this team the right way which is from within. Stay away from high ticket FA’s and flip players for assets until a there are good support players for our young core.