Over the summer, I began tweeting #PTOEveryone. I did this half as a joke and half because the idea of inviting a bunch of determined veterans to training camp really doesn’t have a downside. The worst case scenario is that they don’t work out and at any point during the tryout, you simply release them. They often come in and push for jobs, which creates a better competitive atmosphere which is good for any team and any organization.
Sometimes, you hit big and that’s exactly what happened this year with Alex Chiasson. In his first 30 games of the season, he scored 16 goals and was consistently making an impact in the teams top six. In the 19 games since then, he has just one goal and has looked incredibly slow. He’s dragging down his linemate, which has been Ryan Nugent-Hopkins most of the time, and he’s had some games where he’s looked rough.
Most will say that they saw this slump coming, afterall, his shooting percentage was hanging around 40% for the first few months of the season which is ridiculous compared to last season when he scored just nine goals with the Capitals while still shooting 15%.
It goes without saying, but Chiasson has fit in very well in Edmonton and it’s resulted in a career year. Now the Oilers need to decide, should they try to sell on a player who was on a PTO back in September, should they bank on him repeating his early season performance again next season, or should they try to get the best of both worlds?
TRADE HIM NOW
For the record, I am completely on board with the Oilers trading Chiasson if they can get a decent draft pick or a prospect in return. He was a great story, but we’ve seen him plummet back to mediocrity as of late. Chiasson is not a true top-six forward, instead, I consider him a serviceable third line winger who can contribute on both the powerplay and penalty. When he goes on his hot streaks he has the ability to play with a skilled centre in a top-six role. That still has value.
To get a read on things, I looked back to last years trade deadline and found three comparable deals that were made on deadline day:
Thomas Vanek had 17 goals and 24 assists in 61 games before the Vancouver Canucks traded him to Columbus for Jussi Jokinen and Tyler Motte, two fringe NHLers. Motte was only 22-years-old, so there was some upside there.
Patrick Marron had 14 goals and 24 assists in 57 games when the Oilers traded him to New Jersey for J.D. Dudek and a 2019 third-round pick. Basically a ‘C’ level prospect and later round pick.
Michael Grabner had 29 goals and six assists in 59 games when the New York Rangers dealt him to the Devils for Yegor Rykov and a 2018 second-round pick. Rykov is a former fifth-round pick who’s currently in the KHL.
So far this year, we’ve seen Brian Boyle, who had 13 goals and six assists with the Devils this year, dealt to Nashville for a 2019 second-round pick. That would be the high end of Chiasson’s value.
Truly, I could see the Oilers getting the same return for Chiasson that they got for Maroon last year. A third round pick, preferably this year, and a low-level prospect. If that is available, I think Keith Gretzky would be wise to pull the trigger on the deal.
But what if the best offer isn’t good? What if no one offers more than a fifth-round pick for Chiasson? If that happens, should the Oilers look at keeping him?
KEEP & SIGN HIM
Given the Oilers cap situation, it’s imperative that they find ways to bring in versatile players who can move around the lineup and they need those players to be cheap. Alex Chiasson can be that player.
At Christmas time, we were talking about a multi-year extension that could carry an average cap hit north of $2 million. There were even reports that Chiasson was interested in resigning here and I’m led to believe he still is.
This twenty game slump he’s currently in could maybe be a blessing in disguise because it could be driving down how much his next contract will be worth. If the Oilers are interested in bringing him back, they might be able to get him on a two-year deal worth between $1.25 – $1.75m.
Again, I would prefer they move him, but if they aren’t being offered a decent draft pick, why not keep him for the last 20 games and try to bring him back next year. It might be better than going out this summer and trying to find the next Alex Chiasson.
DO ‘EM BOTH!
This, obviously, is the best case scenario. If you can move out Chiasson, bring in a third round pick, and then sign Chiasson to a good deal on July 1st, everyone wins.
It rarely happens, and if Chiasson has a successful second half with another team it would probably boost his value on the free agent market and might not make him a very good signing.
Again, I like Chiasson as a third line winger, who can help out when it comes to special teams and can serviceably play in a teams top six when he’s on a hot streak. Even when he isn’t at his best, he’s usually a dependable veteran and I think it’s important for the Oilers to have a few of those types on their roster. The Oilers also need to add some future assets at this year’s deadline and this summer, they need to avoid overpaying veterans.
My prediction is that we will see Alex Chiasson dealt to a contending team for a third round pick at the 2019 NHL Draft and in a dream world, the Oilers bring him back on July 1st on a deal that pays him less than $1.5m per year.
What say you? How would you like to see the Oilers handle Alex Chiasson at the deadline? And would you be open to him rejoining the organization in the summer?