Gaëtan Haas spent the last decade playing hockey in his home country of Switzerland prior to being signed by Edmonton. In his first season in the NHL, the 28-year-old forward scored 10 points in 58 games, averaging 9:42 minutes of ice per game.
Haas spent most of his time playing alongside Alex Chiasson and Sam Gagner this season. With Gagner now a Detroit Red Wing as part of the trade that brought Andreas Athanasiou to Edmonton, Haas’ most likely linemates come playoff time will probably be a combination of Chiasson, Patrick Russell and Joakim Nygard.
During the season, Haas shot a pretty unlucky 5.1 shooting percentage. While Haas wasn’t an offensive force, he provided the Oilers with exactly what they needed; A cheaper option down the lineup that won’t cost the team games or cap space.
That being said, it’s unclear where in the lineup Haas will appear. The Oilers signed the Swiss forward to a one-year, $915,000 deal in April, so they clearly see Haas as a part of their bottom-six. But with Josh Archibald, Tyler Benson, Alex Chiasson, Jujhar Khaira, Cooper Marody, Ryan McLeod, James Neal, Joakim Nygard, Patrick Russell and Riley Sheahan all competing for playing time in the bottom-six, Haas will have to take his opportunities where they come. Haas is better than most of the players in that list, and will likely get his ice time playing fourth-line minutes.
While the Oilers top two lines will be battling against Chicago’s Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Calder Trophy-nominee Dominik Kubalik, Haas will play a different role. During the season, he excelled at drawing penalties while managing to stay out of the box himself, as noted by The Athletic’s Jonathan Willis. Opponents took 14 penalties on him while only taking 3 himself.
The Oilers sport the top power play in the league, so if Haas can help them get on the man-advantage throughout this series, he’ll be giving his team a better chance to win.
In the playoffs
As the grind of the playoffs continue, Haas’ value as a competent, reliable, depth center who can confidently take defensive-zone draws will only increase. During the regular season, Haas started 54% of his shifts in his own end.
Haas isn’t the type of player that will hurt his team when he’s on the ice. While he won’t produce highlight-reel goals, he does offer solid value further down the lineup. If he’s able to win faceoffs, draw penalties and score a goal or two along the way, the Oilers will have no complaints regarding Haas.
Going into next season, Haas will provide that same reliability, and with a contract that only takes up 1.1% of the team’s cap hit for one season, this is a low-risk deal. If Haas can improve offensively, he’ll make that contract a bargain very quickly.