While the Oilers took a home-run swing with Matvei Petrov in the sixth round, their selection of Jake Chiasson two rounds earlier is more of a safe bet to become a quality depth NHL forward.
Unrelated to Alex “The Answer” Chiasson, Jake Chiasson is the first player the Oilers have selected out of the Western Hockey League since they used their first- and third-round selections on Kailer Yamamoto and Stuart Skinner back in 2017. That’s quite the change of scenery for an organization that had leaned heavily on prospects who grew up in their backyard.
Though the 2020-21 WHL season didn’t offer much of a sample size, Chiasson produced well on a very successful Brandon Wheat Kings team and scouts have spoken highly about his two-way game. When you put this package together, you can see the upside Chiasson has of becoming a nice complementary player as a pro.
Position: Centre / Right Wing
Date of Birth: May 25, 2003
Drafted: 2021, No. 116 overall (EDM)
Weight: 165 lbs
Chiasson came up through Kelowna’s Yale Hockey Academy and was selected by the Wheat Kings with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2018 bantam draft. In his rookie season, Chiasson scored just five goals and 15 points over 60 games on a Wheat Kings team with quite a few veterans above him on the depth chart.
He took on a bigger role on the team in his draft year in 2020-21 and saw his production rise to nine goals and 20 points over 23 games. Again, that’s not a huge sample size by any stretch and he played on a very good team, but Chiasson was tied for seventh in the WHL in terms of points for U18 skaters, just four points back of No. 9 overall pick Dylan Guenther.
There’s some disagreement among scouts about Chiasson’s skating. Some say that he has a fluent stride and can quickly get up to top speed while others, such as Corey Pronman of The Athletic, suggest that Chiasson’s skating is an issue and needs major work. The reality of the pandemic is that scouting last season was more difficult than ever and we’re going to see some discrepancy in these assessments.
That said, there are a handful of aspects of Chiasson’s game that everyone agrees on. He has good offensive instincts and creativity in the offensive zone and isn’t afraid to go into the dirty areas and work along the boards in order to retrieve the puck for his linemates. That profile reminds me a bit of this summer’s big off-season addition, Zach Hyman, as a complementary forward on a skill line who can do some heavy lifting in the offensive zone and start plays from there.
“Chiasson isn’t a shoot-first winger and has some creativity and a strong passing game,” said FC Hockey ahead of the draft. “But he’s also useful off the puck by jamming the net and getting under an opponent’s skin without taking a penalty. Chiasson moves well and can accelerate to top speed in only a few strides while maintaining control of the puck. He also has sharp hand-eye coordination to handle crisp passes from in close.”
Chiasson will return to the Wheat Kings for his third season in the WHL this fall. Hopefully, all goes well and the league has a full season and we get to see what a more mature Chiasson can do over the course of a normal schedule. There’s quite a bit to like about this prospect, largely in his creativity and work in the offensive zone, and, based on how his production jumped from his rookie to sophomore year, we could be witnessing a breakout performance.
It’s been a few years since the Oilers had a prospect in the WHL, so Chiasson will be a fun player to follow for those who enjoy watching players come through Edmonton to play the Oil Kings.
For reference, players who I consider to be “prospects” for this countdown are skaters who have played fewer than 50 NHL games and goaltenders who have played fewer than 25 NHL games. I’m basing the rankings on a combination of upside and the likelihood of reaching that potential.