One of the nicest bright spots for the Oilers last season was the surprising breakout of Alex Chiasson. Peter Chiarelli backed himself into a corner with horrendous salary cap management but was able to find a diamond in the rough in Chiasson, who, on a league-minimum salary, exploded for a career-high 22 goals in 2018-19.
Chiasson was a decent depth contributor on the 2018 Washington Capitals Stanley Cup squad. Despite chipping in nine goals and 18 points in 61 games during the regular season and playing a checking role during the team’s Cup run, Chiasson didn’t have a job this time last year. The Oilers invited him to camp on a PTO, he earned a contract, had a great season, and turned it into a two-year deal.
With training camp right around the corner, the focus now shifts to professional tryout offers as teams around the league seek to find a last-minute diamond in the rough. The Oilers struck gold with Chiasson last year. Can they do it again this year?
That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday SATURDAY EDITION question. Who should the Oilers bring to camp on a PTO? Who could become this year’s Chiasson?
So far, six players have agreed to PTOs to attend training camp this fall. Andrew MacDonald will be with the Flames, Michal Neuvirth and Matt Read with the Leafs, Alex Petrovic with the Bruins, Chris Stewart with the Flyers, and Scottie Upshall with the Stars. Who’s left out there for the Oilers?
Thomas Vanek: Here’s somebody who Ken Holland is very familiar with. Vanek has had two different stints with the Red Wings in his late-career tour. He signed with Detroit prior to 2016-17 and signed with them again prior to 2018-19. He scored 16 goals for the Wings last season in 16 games. Vanek doesn’t provide much on the ice other than offence, but that’s an area in which the Oilers could use some help.
Riley Sheahan: Another former Red Wing floating around the free-agent market who fills a need for the Oilers in Riley Sheahan. After going nearly the entire 2016-17 without a goal, Sheahan scored 11 goals in 2017-18 and nine goals in 2018-19. It’s unlikely the soon-to-be 28-year-old will live up to his first-round pick potential, but the Oilers could use another reliable bottom-six centre option.
Oscar Lindberg: While the first two players I listed are more known commodities, Lindberg has the potential to be a Chiasson-style bargain addition. The former second-round pick of the Rangers was selected by Vegas in the expansion draft and then to Ottawa in the Mark Stone deal. In an expanded role on a horrendous Sens squad, Lindberg scored eight points in 20 games. He’s always boasted some solid underlying numbers, which suggests he could catch fire in the right situation.
Dmitrij Jaskin: Another interesting option based on underlying numbers is Dmitrij Jaskin. After playing his entire career with the Blues organization, the former second-round pick spent last year as a depth player for the Capitals. He scored just two goals in 37 games but had a 13-goal season just a few years ago in St. Louis. At the very least, Jaskin has excellent shot-suppression numbers and could serve as a solid defensive forward.
Internal options: While Holland hasn’t added any players on PTOs yet, he’s purchased quite a few scratch tickets. He signed Gaetan Haas and Joakim Nygard from Europe and added AHL star Tomas Jurco earlier this off-season. There’s a chance any of these three guys could be a diamond in the rough.
What say you, Nation? Who should the Oilers bring to training camp this fall? Is there anybody out there who could become this year’s version of Alex Chiasson?