Alex Chiasson has been everything and more than the Canucks could have hoped for
Photo credit:© Derek Cain-USA TODAY Sports
By Noah Strang11 months ago
When the Canucks signed Alex Chiasson to a professional tryout contract before the season started, there were few expectations for the journeyman forward. Chiasson was brought in to provide a veteran presence that could hopefully help elevate the power play to a higher level. Now with the season almost over, it’s fair to say that he provided everything that was expected of him and more.
Chiasson arrived in Vancouver three years removed from a 22-goal season with the Edmonton Oilers. While his numbers had trended downwards since then, Vancouver was hopeful that the winger would be able to regain some of his scoring touch alongside some of their talented young players.
While it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Chiasson in Vancouver, he has exceeded the realistic expectations of anyone that makes an NHL team from a PTO. This was the third contract that Chiasson has signed from a PTO and his performance this year may mean he doesn’t need to prove himself as much at next season’s training camp.
Chiasson’s impact on the power play
One of the largest reasons that Chiasson was targeted was because of his power play skills. He’s known around the league as a productive power play option and played the net-front role for a historically-strong Edmonton Oilers unit only a few years ago.
While there have been ups and downs for Chiasson on the first power play unit this season, recently, something has clicked. The Canucks’ power play has been lethal over the last twenty games and the Quebec native has played a large role in that. He’s a good net-front presence that can skillfully tip pucks past opposing goalies as well as find loose rebounds in the crease.
His power play production alone could be worth the Canucks keeping him around. Special teams have been a massive area of concern for the franchise this season, mostly with the penalty kill, but the power play has struggled too; if Chiasson can continue to prove that he is a key cog in an elite unit, it’s worth giving him another shot, especially considering his price.
Chiasson’s late-season outburst
After a stretch of 11 games that saw Chiasson’s ice-time limited and his production go to zero, he has bounced back in a major way. Chiasson has been one of the most productive Canucks over the last few games and has seen his ice time increase because of it. When asked about the ups and downs, he had the following to say.
“It’s kind of a little bit the story of my career. I’ve found a way to stay resilient and believe in myself and there’s a lot of ups and downs in this league,” said the Quebec-native. “Obviously getting power play and a lot more ice time is a key part of that and I’m thankful for Bruce [Boudreau] to give me that opportunity lately.”
With seven points in his last five games, Chiasson has been playing some of his best hockey of the season. While it’s a small sample size, it’s still evidence as to Chiasson’s ability to get on the scoresheet, something he does better than the vast majority of players that make a team from a PTO.
Chiasson has even been showing some chemistry with Elias Pettersson as the two have connected for some pretty goals. While he’s not going to play on Pettersson’s line long-term, it points to his ability to mesh well with talented players instead of dragging them down. That’s a valuable trait for someone that costs as little as Chiasson does.
The low-risk bet pays off
It didn’t cost the Canucks anything to invite Chiasson to camp and he has played a small but important role for the team this year. While he’s not a difference-maker, he has been a solid bottom-six option that has also contributed to the power play. He doesn’t make too many mistakes, though there is the occasional mishap, and is a veteran presence in the room that has won a Stanley Cup before. That experience is welcome for a young Canucks group that are clearly still trying to figure out how to bring their best every night in the NHL.
He’s fourth on the Canucks in power play points per-sixty minutes, trailing only J.T. Miller, Quinn Hughes, and Elias Pettersson. Not bad for a player only making $750k this season. Depth scoring is crucial in the NHL and Chiasson has helped provide that this season for the Canucks.
“Chiasson has been really good,” said Boudreau after a 4-2 win against the San Jose Sharks. “Anytime you can get balanced scoring, or scoring from other ways…it was good to see.”
The Canucks gave Chiasson a chance to play this season and for that reason, it wouldn’t be surprising if he was open to returning. If the team can get him for another year at under $1 million, that would be a deal that could see him provide surplus value. His power play prowess and ability to play alongside stars are both valuable skills that the Canucks could use from a depth piece.
What do you think of Chiasson’s play this season? Would you be open to bringing him back? Let us know in the comments section below!
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