36
Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing For Granted

In terms of results, I’m not sure anybody knew what to expect from Alex Chiasson when he showed up at training camp with the Edmonton Oilers on a PTO at the start of last season fresh from earning a Stanley Cup ring as a role player with the Washington Capitals. Looking ahead to next season, it’s probably fair to say we still don’t.

What we do know is that Chiasson turned out to be a bargain and one of the best moves made by Peter Chiarelli after he produced a career-high 22 goals — fourth on the team behind Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – for the relatively modest $650,000 he was paid.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

That earned Chiasson a two-year contract worth $4.3 million from POHO and GM Ken Holland as a UFA this off-season. I think that’s fair money for Chiasson. While we can reasonably debate whether he can provide an encore in terms of production after a season in which he shot the lights out early and finished with a 17.9 shooting percentage, there’s one thing Oilers’ fans can count on from the 28-year-old journeyman this coming season.

After five NHL stops and four straight seasons playing on one-year contracts, including last season’s PTO, since his entry level deal, Chiasson is a hungry player who’ll give the Oilers what’s he’s got, even if we’re not sure yet exactly what that will be. He takes nothing for granted, and is looking for a place to call home beyond a season or two. Is this it?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

NO ENTITLEMENT

Over the years, I’ve met countless players of vastly different abilities – from marginal ham-and-eggers to guys who made it to the HHOF — who share one trait. No matter how much success they enjoy or how much money they make, they never take even one day wearing an NHL jersey for granted. Whether that’s reflected in commitment to training, on-ice practice, a willingness to do the dirty work or simply giving you everything they’ve got, sometimes all four, they never assume anything.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Kelly Buchberger was like that. So was Ryan Smyth, Likewise Mark Recchi and Jason Strudwick, to name just four. It’s almost as if they feel that if they ever let up and get comfortable, somebody is going to sneak up and tear the jersey off their back. Again, very different players, but they share many of the same traits. I put a guy like Chiasson in that group.

“I’m glad that everything worked out as it did because I’m in a place where I’ve kind of given a second wind to my career and I have a chance to play a certain role with a team that for me can be successful, which means a lot to me,” Chiasson said. “I wasn’t really looking at anywhere else.

“I think for me if you look over my career, the last three or four years have kind of been crazy. Moving around on one-year deals, two tryouts, and last year coming to Edmonton on a tryout and doing well after earning a contract, I think that was kind of eye-opening for me . . . I’ve always been a guy that when the season ends, I think of things that I can spend time on in the summer to try and get better.”

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

THE RIGHT PLACE

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Who will Chiasson, who averaged 16:58 in ice time, play with this season? As primarily a bottom-six guy who is capable of moving up and down the line-up, how much time will he get with McDavid or Draisaitl or RNH at even strength? Can Chiasson repeat his production (8-7-15) on the power play? While scoring 22 goals again is a reach, can he score 14-18? The answers will depend on what the team looks like, how the pieces fit together.

“Obviously the season has ups and downs,” he said. “The majority of players go through that, and I think for me as a player one thing you’re looking at when you’re playing well is consistency. There are nights where you won’t be able to produce offensively, but at the same time you’ve got to do other things to help the team win.

“I think I’m a perfect example of a player in the past few years that’s moved around and then found his perfect place. With those guys, that’s what I’m looking forward to next year. I’m challenging myself to repeat, do more of the same, but adapt my game to be more consistent throughout the 82 games.”

Yes, consistency. Easier said than achieved. Chiasson scored 16 goals in Edmonton’s first 36 games and managed just six more the rest of the way — far closer to his career output rate. If he can just find that consistent middle ground he’ll get the chance to unpack his bags and stick around without having one eye on the door.

Previously by Robin Brownlee


  • Spydyr

    It is hard to attract free agents to an organization when its upper management throws players under the bus. We all know the reason the Oilers did not make the playoffs last season was because of Reider, right Burger Bob.

  • BR

    Glad he’s back. A 1yr deal would’ve been better for us. But he’s one the only legit wing options we have and he really earnt a decent raise coming off a PTO to do as well as he did.

  • blobbo

    You could write almost the same article about Gagner. Sam should be expected to put up similar numbers to Chiasson. The only issue with Sam is he gets paid $1 million more.

    • Not really. While Gagner has bounced around in the last several years of his career, he spent his first seven seasons as a developing player with the Oilers and got a chance to establish himself. Chiasson has never been in one place longer than two seasons since breaking in.

      • chezzychez

        I’m guessing Gag’s isn’t taking anything for granted this year though. Especially after 43 games in the minors last year and it being a contract year for him. Here’s hoping he puts up some numbers in the bottom 6 and gives the big 3 some much needed support.

      • kelvjn

        Rookie year scored 7 points in 7 games, and after scoring 35 points and 26 points to finish his ELC, and while playing for the Senator, he went to arbitration asking for 2.4 million, and gotten 1.2M out of the process.

        A poor offensive year later another contract dispute, and gotten himself traded to Calgary. The strange part is somehow he settled for 800k (didn’t they need to qualifying offer matching previous year salary?), then not even QO at end of year, and so began his PTO and league minimum years.

        I would argue his lack of development should at least partly be blamed on his agent and negotiating tactics.

      • blobbo

        In your own words, Chiasson will give you everything he’s got even though you don’t know what it will be. Same applies to Gagner. You can’t question Sam’s work ethic but he can be streaky and inconsistent.

      • hammer313

        I would like to know why Gagner is paid so much? Is it his father or his 8 point game? He was never consistent and honestly, seemed a bit entitled because of his hockey father. At best he is a 1.5-2 mil player.

  • Petey Summers

    I don’t see Chiasson coming anywhere close to the career high shooting percentage of 17.9 % he posted last season. It’s simply unsustainable. For his career, Alex has been successful 12.7 % of the time.

  • Dave Marks

    I don’t see Chiasson maintaining that very high shooting % he posted last season. (17.9 %) when he has only been a 12.7 % guy for his career. 17.9 % is simply unsustainable.

    • CactusJr

      12.7% and matching his shots on goal of 123 equals 15. You ok with that? Or an extra 1/2 per game at 12.7% gets him 21. His production will be directly related to top 6 minutes and PP ice time. Bottom line is he’s a pro and we need more pros

      • Dave Marks

        Potting 6 goals his last 37 games doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence. He’s a serviceable NHL’r & Brownie is right insofar as the dude works his butt off & is a good pro but I don’t think we will see him near career highs again.

    • ed from edmonton

      Gord, you are under the mistaken impression that anyone, including Holland is expecting Chaisson to repeat as a 22 goal scorer. 2.15M is not a 22 goal scorer salary. The best comparable to Chaisson might be Ryan Hartman for got 1.9X2 with very similar career offensive states (about a goal every 5.8 games, and a point every 2.8 games. Collin Wilson with only marginal better career stats got 2.6M. The expectation is 10-15 goals and 25 to 30 points. If he falls short of that you have a case. If he meets it, STFU about this.

      • Serious Gord

        He gets 30 plus points not playing on Mcd’s line and yes it’s a reasonable price.

        Will you remember that you were wrong when he doesn’t hit that number?

        • cityofchampions

          I don’t think Chiasson was Holland’s first choice (I think he wanted Nyquist), but everything else fell through on free agent frenzy and signing Chaisson for a reasonable 2 yr contract became a reasonable gamble at that point. As Ed states above, no one is counting on Chiasson to get over 20 goals, but if he can chip in somewhere around 15 then it’s a good deal. Its only a 2 year deal, and if it doesn’t work out he’s gone at the same time lots of our other bad contracts are gone, which is when we will have the salary cap room to actually lure big-time free agents here. Until then, you need to find stop-gap pros who can hold the fort, and the Chaisson contract is a reasonable bet.

        • ed from edmonton

          Wrong about what? That 10 to 15 goals and 25 to 30 points is the expectation? I am saying that if he gets materially less than this then its a disappointment and not good value for money. Of course if he repeats 22 goals then it will be a great signing.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    While I think Oilers could of had Chaisson cheaper towards the end of the season I get without a GM they were hesitant to do any deals, that said if Chaisson can equal his points total of last year that will be bargain for the Oilers. He wanted to comeback he has made a home for his family here, I believe Chaisson will make the most of the opportunity I am sure he would like to quell the naysayers that he wont get close to his totals of last season, but we have to remember Chaisson really didnt have nay steady linemates it was a mixed bag at best like most of the team experienced.

    I am willing to wait and see how things go, hopefully Tippett will see how things go in camp and the preseason and a few games of the season and get a good idea of who is working best with who and give the guys some linemates where they can gel together and see what happens, lord knows I think we have seen enough of the blender the last two season

  • madjam

    I look at Ferland whom no one expected to score 10 goals with Calgary , and how well he is regarded lately . I find Chiasson to be very much like Ferland in better scoring nowadays . Could and should be a solid addition to team over the next 2 seasons and well worth his contract . Experience with Caps a bonus as well come playoff time . I worry more about Gagner not producing well enough more than Chiasson .

  • hagar

    I moved from Vancouver to Alberta at age 13, and turned from a Canucks fan, into an Oilers fan because of logistics.

    I was always a player growing up that loved grit, and buchburger was it for me.. there is a purity or whatever about someone who will do whatever it takes.

    Kelley would face anyone that wanted some… didnt matter if he knew he would get the crap kicked out of him. In the low talent years we had guys like him, followed by guys like Jason and Ryan Smith..
    I remember spending 4 nights a week cheering the Oilers on to yet another last minute overtime turning goal at pubs, it was full time. It was seriously a team where you would bet they would win going Into the third down by two.

    Sooo much of hockey is about playing to the best of your abilities like the golden nights and many other teams have shown.

    I see zero reason the Oilers cant get together a serious run with the tools they have, it just needs the full time effort to make up for some lack of support.

    Anyone who thinks the team is screwed while leon, connor and nuge are on the roster are obtuse. This team needs a few pieces to become epic for sure, but there is plenty enough here to make the playoffs on consistent effort as is.

  • OilCan2

    Lunch bucket guys who work to improve every season are what we need. Good signing Ken. I think you might include the top half dozen Condors in this group. They ride the bus to every game. They are super motivated to jump on the private jet with gourmet meals and a shoulder rub from the stewardess.

  • OilTastic

    Marcus Johansson, another guy we could have used, signs in Buffalo, though at $4.5 mil/per for 2 years, that’s quite expensive and i’m not sure i would have signed him for that either if i was Holland !

  • Rama Lama

    I like the guy………but with our luck I suspect he caught “ lightning in a bottle”, and given our luck, I doubt he can replicate his last season.

    I predict by half way of next season, he will be playing a fourth line role, if he is playing at all…….his hands are average to good, but his skating is lacking.

  • Joy S. Lee

    I agree that Chiasson adds dimensions – including character – to the team. It would be a real boon if they’ve found one or two others like him in recent signings, but if nothing else the organization addressed an overall lack of speed with those. The Oilers needed Chiasson, I’m glad they signed him.