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Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The curious case of Alex Chiasson

Alex Chiasson was one of the biggest storylines around the Edmonton Oilers last season.

Riding the coattails of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, he had a career year scoring 22 goals adding 16 assists.

His 38 points were a career-best and he got paid like it. A two-year, $2.15-m AAV deal was handed his way by new GM Ken Holland.

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And this season, he sure doesn’t look like he’s coming off a career year. His numbers have been lacklustre only tallying five points in 20 games this year — a pace of only 20 points over 82-games, eight below his career average.

Nobody really expected him to come in and light the lamp like he did last year, given it was known he wouldn’t be lining up alongside the big two of McDavid and Draisaitl.

I do think there were people who had hopes he could replicate some of that production away from the big two, but it’s clear he hasn’t.

The numbers game

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Playing four minutes less a game this year, the 29-year-old has posted some strong analytics at even-strength this year with a career-high 52.31 CF% and a career-high goal rate of 52.94 GF%.

Not only that, but his expected goal rate is 52.41 xGF% showing he’s been getting really good opportunities but hasn’t been able to convert. And that can be credited to his terrible 3.4 sh%.

All the aforementioned rates rank amongst the best on the entire Oilers roster this year, but those numbers have been elevated by his two most common linemates at even-strength — James Neal and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins — in a significant way.

While Chiasson’s CF% is 58.64 with his most common linemate Neal, it’s a brutal 45.03 away from him. Similarly, with Nugent-Hopkins, his 55.88 CF% with him drops to 48.79 away from him.

In the same breath, Neal and Nugent-Hopkins show similar significant possession drops away from Chiasson making it clear that the trio are best paired together, rather than away from each other.

His sheltered offensive zone starts suggest that the Oilers coaching staff don’t trust him in his own end. Not a great sign for someone who has been unable to produce offensively.

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The early return on his new contract hasn’t been great and there’s legitimate room for concern over the troubling trends mentioned above.

If Edmonton wants to rid themselves of Chiasson and are unable to do so via the trade market, the team could go the buyout route they have so often in recent years.

According to Puckpedia, buying out Chiasson’s remaining year would cost Edmonton $716,667 against the cap for two seasons.

The hope, of course, is that Chiasson is able to rebound off a brutal start to the year and either bring some more value to the Oilers, or to his trade value.

On Twitter: @zjlaing