Alex Chiasson has been, without doubt, the best PTO in recent Edmonton Oilers history. Of course, that isn’t saying a ton (PTO’s rarely work) but he has emerged from the scrap heap to become a regular in the NHL lineup. After starting the season as a healthy scratch, Chiasson rode a heater and became Edmonton’s fourth offensive pillar earlier this season.
He’s got 17 goals in 46 games this season, adding ten helpers for 27 points. He’s only eight points from his career-high (35, set in 2013-14 with Dallas) and has already set a new career-high for goals scored in a season. Carrying just a $650,000 cap hit for the season, Chiasson is a true ‘value contract’.
It’s time for the Oilers to consider trading him, however. With the club six points back of a playoff spot as of this writing, odds are the Oilers will be watching the playoffs from their living rooms for the 12th time in 13 campaigns. Maximizing Chiasson’s value must be the play now.
But He Wants To Stay!:
This is a common response from Oiler fans, and I understand it. Let’s be honest, players wanting to come to and stay in Edmonton hasn’t been a common theme during these dark times for the organization. Chiasson is different, though, and even through the struggles of the team he wants to remain an Oiler.
This from TSN’s Ryan Rishaug on February 2nd:
Will be interesting to see how Oilers handle UFA Chiasson. Has produced beyond wildest expectations off of a PTO, and they badly need scoring wingers. If they stay in playoff chase, likely use as own rental, but wonder if extension is an option. Haven’t heard of any talks yet.
Chiasson’s 17 goals have been massive for the Oilers, and his secondary scoring helped them in a major way early in the season. Like their playoff hopes, however, Chiasson’s scoring has dried up and he’s been invisible the last ten games.
He’s not helping the offense right now, and is in a slump that prevents him from being counted on for a top-six role like he was earlier in the campaign. Although he wants to stay, he’s not doing much to force the issue right now.
A Deeper Dive:
Although it is disappointing to see his career year come to a crashing halt, it really isn’t that much of a surprise. Chiasson’s sensational start with the Oilers was mostly thanks to a hot streak that was due to end at some point. Many talked about the insane shooting percentage Chiasson was riding, and that has corrected itself.
Through his first 15 games with the club, Chiasson scored seven goals on a 42.1% shooting percentage. The percentage dropped big time, but still stayed at a very high 25.8% clip during the next 15 game stretch. Chiasson potted eight goals in that span, maintaining a strong presence in Edmonton’s lineup.
The last 16 games? Just one goal for Chiasson, who has a shooting percentage of 4.5%. Market correction can be cruel, and right now Chiasson is stuck in a slump. Of course, he’s now due for regression in the other way, and I think it is safe to expect Chiasson to bounce back and score at a better clip before the season ends.
Will it be the pace he scored at earlier this season? No, it won’t, but Chiasson is a career 13% shooter and I suspect he settles in around that number before we break for the summer.
This is a streaky player that gave Edmonton some serious production early in the season, but the best play might be to call it a day and move him at the deadline.
I understand Chiasson wants to remain an Oiler, but there is always the possibility of reconnecting in the summer and signing him to another cheap one-year contract. Right now, Chiasson is a value deal, but he can turn into an overpaid depth player quite easily.
There is simply no good reason, in a lost season, for the Oilers to hang onto Chiasson and overpay him for a nice 31 game stretch. It makes no sense and will only hurt the next General Manager in his quest to fix what ails this organization.
We’ve seen a similar player, albeit a center, in Brian Boyle get moved for a second rounder. I don’t think Chiasson will command that value, but perhaps the Oilers could snag a third or a prospect in a Chiasson deal.
Unless he is willing to sign a one-year extension at similar money, the smart play is to trade Chiasson in the next 13 days.