Alex Chiasson was drafted 38th overall by the Dallas Stars in the 2009 entry draft and began his NCAA career with Boston College three months later. He played three seasons with the Terriers before debuting in the AHL with the Texas Stars for the 2012/2013 season. He was recalled by Dallas late in the season and scored six goals in seven games. Quite the first impression.
He made the Stars out of training camp the next season and has been an NHL player ever since. His 448 games played are 30th most from the 2009 draft class, while he is 19th in goals (80) and 24th overall in points (160). He has become a solid NHL player.
But his path to 448 games played has been anything but smooth.
After one season with the Stars he was traded to Ottawa, along with Nick Paul, Alexander Guptill and a second round pick for Jason Spezza and Ludwig Karlsson. Chiasson tallied 13 goals and 35 points as a rookie, which was his best offensive output until scoring 21 goals and 36 points so far this year.
He played two seasons with the Senators, but they didn’t qualify him and he became a free agent. In the summer of 2016 he signed a one-year, $800,000 deal with the Calgary Flames. In 2017 he signed a one-year, $660,000 deal with the Washington Capitals after coming to training camp on a PTO. He won a Stanley Cup with the Capitals, but no one signed him in free agency.
He signed a PTO with the Oilers this past September, and then signed a one-year, $650,000 deal on October 2nd.
Chiasson has had to earn every opportunity he’s had, and now after a career best 21 goals and 36 points he is poised to become a free agent again.
Has there been any discussions between the Oilers and Chiasson’s agent?
“Honestly, I’m not a guy who’s going to come out and talk about this in the media, but so far there has been nothing,” said Chiasson.
“I mentioned earlier this year, it was important for me to let the organization know that my first goal is to stay here. Obviously, a couple of things go with that. On the personal level I think I have been able to find an opportunity to play with some good players, a bigger role in my game which has helped me to grow my game, that means a lot for me.
“You never know if you’re going to go somewhere else where you are going to fit in. I think this year I have proven I can play with those guys and contribute offensively, and obviously production has been there for me, but also I see value in this team. I do not think we’re that far off from being a really good team in the league, and so at this point in my career, I’ve enjoyed winning, I know what it feels like, and I believe this group has the ability to get close to that.
“The rest is out of my control. I’ll be the first one to admit that I wish something was done by now, but sometimes you don’t control those things,” continued Chiasson.
HAPPINESS and OPPORTUNITY…
Chiasson has played for five teams in the past six seasons. He’s seen a lot. He’s learned even more. So how much of his decision will be based on comfort, happiness and opportunity?
“Yeah, it’s big and I’m not going to be the guy that’s trying to break the bank, that’s not who I am and that’s not what I’m looking for,” said Chiasson.
“So obviously what you said about happiness is very true. Part of the equation for me is, I think sometimes you see players, they go somewhere else and it just doesn’t click. I think in this league things change so quickly. Being in a place where you’re comfortable is very important, and with that being said, being paid fairly is still a factor for me. We’ve got two guys top-five in scoring and Nuge (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) has had a great year. You’ve seen some guys taking their game to the next level. So I’m hopeful that (re-signing here) works out, but at the same time I know there is a lot of changes upstairs (new GM) as well. Those are the things that I can’t control, but I’m hopeful to be back.”
Chiasson has spoke openly about how much he learned from watching his Capitals teammates, specifically TJ Oshie, last season, and felt he could be successful given an opportunity. He has taken advantage of an opportunity.
A lot of people will say, “it’s a one off.” Why is he confident it won’t be?
“First of all, I think watching guys and trying to incorporate some of that stuff into my game did help, and then obviously given the opportunity of playing on the power play and getting quality minutes goes a long way. But I think from a guy that’s been on four, I think this is my fourth straight year on a one year deal, two PTOs, I’ve had to overcome quite a bit.
“And now it’s going to come where people are going to argue, people are going to say ‘why should we give him this money if he’s only done it once?’ I think I have proven in my career I’ve been able to overcome things and those are the things that challenge me. Those are the things that make me want to get better. I had no contract September 5th and I had just won the Stanley Cup. And now I am having the best season of my career, hit twenty goals, [I’ve] proven a lot of people wrong here. That motivates me,” said Chiasson confidently.
You have to believe in yourself, because if you don’t it is hard for others to. Chiasson knows he can be a consistent player. He is also aware of his limitations. The Oilers know what he brings on the ice, but also what type of person he is in the room and around his teammates.
The Oilers don’t have a lot of vocal players. Their best players are more lead by example, which is fine. Chiasson is extremely thoughtful. He is well spoken. Would it be easier for him to be more vocal now that he knows the players, compared to the Oilers signing another veteran who doesn’t know the room? Would it help him as much as help the Oilers?
“Totally. I think it takes time for a guy like me to come in and get comfortable,” said Chiasson. “I can’t start yelling in December, or not even yelling, but it’s hard to have a conversation with players when you’ve only been around them for three or four months.
“I’ve always believed that it takes time to learn how different guys react to different things. So I think for me hopefully, and like I said, I would love to come back, because I think I have this one intangible (knowing how to win) that arguably a lot of guys don’t have here, and I will also be more comfortable with the players which gives me a little more freedom to be that way.
“I’m not a guy who starts talking before a game. I try to lead by my example in the way I play and that’s one thing that Hitch has been hard on me. It’s been really good for me because the players and the organization sees a lot in me and I take a lot of pride in that, because we have a lot of, if you want to call them all stars, but you also need a supporting cast who can follow those players.
“You can’t ask certain guys who are on the bottom six to play how Connor [McDavid] and Leon [Draisaitl] play. I think I’m a guy who’s capable of matching in-between those two groups and that’s really important, because that’s what it takes to win in this league. You can’t rely on just a handful of players. You need a supporting cast who can contribute offensively, but they have to play the game the right way and that’s what makes a team really dangerous,” said Chiasson.
Chiasson spoke candidly about what the potential he sees here. He believes because of the top-end talent, this team can have a quick turnaround, and he’d like to be a part of it. His career numbers stem from an opportunity on the powerplay more than anything. He has 12-7-19 at 5×5, and his career high is 11-9-20. But his production on the powerplay has helped him and the Oilers.
He is good in the net-front role on the PP, and he is the only right shot on the first unit.
If I was the new GM I’d strongly look at re-signing Chiasson to a deal that makes sense. He spoke openly about how important having fun is for him. Playing in the top nine and on the PP in the NHL is fun.
A two year deal at $1.8-$2million make sense for a player who has averaged 13 goals the past six seasons, is responsible defensively, battles hard and will speak up when needed.
Tobias Rieder has no goals in 62 games. Valeri Nichuskin has no goals in 55 games. Rieder currently sits second all-time for most shots by a forward in one NHL season without scoring a goal and Nichuskin is fourth. This dates back to 1959 when the NHL began tracking shots on goal. Craig Adams had 84 shots in 2010, Reider has 83, Bill Muckalt had 73 shots in 2002 and Nichushkin is fourth with 64.
It is an inauspicious record that both forwards would love to escape from before the season is over.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
For this game with Edmonton, the stakes are a bit lower than they were against Winnipeg and Calgary. In some ways, this game is what’s known as a “scheduled loss” — a lesser opponent following several playoff caliber teams, plus the second game of a back-to-back. Throw in a six-game winning streak on the road, and you can almost see the reversion to the mean.
This is a character game. A bunch of reasons to not win, unless you just hate to lose.
The Oilers have a few guys out, specifically Jesse Puljujarvi and likely Jujhar Khaira. Other than that, this game features Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. The top five scoring forwards on Edmonton all shoot over 14 percent.
This should be a fun night for watching hockey. I’d recommend starting off watching Montreal take on Columbus, with huge playoff implications for both teams. Follow that up with this Stars-Oilers game. Enjoy the spectacle of such a talented team, while contemplating how they continue to miss the playoffs (hint: it might have something to do with their recently fired GM).
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers face another team on the second half of back-to-backs and for the second time this week they win. Tonight, by a score of 4-1.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Draisaitl scores his 100th point and McDavid buries his 40th goal on fan appreciation night.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers get a goal from an unexpected forward. Not Rieder, but Milan Lucic scores his first goal in 27 games. There has been much more calm in Oilersnation regarding Lucic. I find many are now empathic towards him. He will never come close to living up to the contract.
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Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 3/28/2019 – 12:45 pm MT