Ken Holland elected to re-sign Alex Chiasson on July 1st after the Edmonton Oilers struck out on players like Gustav Nyquist and Brett Connolly. The contract, a two-year deal worth $2,150,000 per season, was met with praise by those in the Edmonton media and by a portion of the fanbase. Predictably, however, this contract is starting to look like Holland’s first real mistake as GM of the Edmonton Oilers.
Chiasson scored a career-high 22 goals a season ago. It was a breakout season for the veteran, who was terrific in the first half of the season. He struggled mightily from January on, however, and it became quite clear that Chiasson’s first half success was based off of an unsustainable shooting percentage.
So far through 13 games this season, Chiasson has no goals. He has just three assists and has managed only 16 shots to this point in the season. He does have a positive Corsi For, 50.50%, but he has not produced like he is being paid.
Failed Trip To The Top
Dave Tippett wanted to get Chiasson going on Monday night when the Oilers hosted the Arizona Coyotes. As a result, he started on the top line with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. By the time the game ended, Sam Gagner had replaced him and Chiasson was again in the bottom six.
Tippett seemed agitated with the veteran postgame. This was not a good night for Chiasson. Tippett called out Chiasson, among others, for not stepping up when they were given a golden opportunity to do so. Chiasson was relegated to third line duty on Tuesday at practice, skating with Tomas Jurco and Gaetan Haas.
While on the top line, the pace of play was not good. Chiasson appeared to be slowing the trio down, and the play died on his stick numerous times. It wasn’t until Gagner took his spot that the trio truly took off. That’s a really bad sign, considering Chiasson was signed because he filled that spot for a stretch a season ago.
Via Natural Stat Trick, McDavid posted a 35.71% Corsi For with Chiasson on Monday night. Without him? That shot to 87.50%. Leon Draisaitl’s numbers were equally stunning. He posted identical numbers with and without Chiasson. It was night and day how the line performed with and without the veteran forward.
Friend of the blog Woodguy posted a terrific set of stats on Lowetide.ca earlier this morning. Essentially, Chiasson’s five-on-five points-per-60 a season ago, even with his hot streaks, was 1.25. That’s a fourth line rate.
Even when playing with McDavid, Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Chiasson couldn’t produce any kind of offense in the second half of the season. In January (.89) and February (.00), he was below replacement level.
The signs were there last year.
Chiasson is a solid fourth line winger. That was true when the Oilers signed him to a PTO last September, when he went on a shooting heater last season, and when he was re-signed in July. The Oilers paid Chiasson for a heater, and now they are stuck with his cap hit both this season and next.
He’s not a bad player overall. Chiasson is a trustworthy depth forward who is physical and can play on a second powerplay unit. His value in Edmonton is diminished, however, because James Neal has taken his job on the powerplay.
The best thing for both sides? Fixing this mistake and finding a new home for Chiasson. It’s not that he’s a bad player, but his value to this Oilers team isn’t much. Edmonton has tons of depth forwards. They simply cannot afford for Chiasson to be not producing and making over $2 million per season. The odds they find a trading partner, however, are slim to none.
The most likely outcome? The Oilers will be stuck with Chiasson through at least the remainder of the season. If he can’t turn things around, Holland will have to consider using a buyout on him in June.
If that happens, per Cap Friendly, the Oilers would carry a cap hit of $716,667 per year in both 2020-21 and 2021-22.