Free Agent Profile: Alex Chiasson
Veteran of 631 NHL games over 10 seasons, free agent forward Alexandre Chiasson finds himself once again in familiar territory: approaching training camp without a contract, after another solid season in the NHL. The veteran has signed three takedowns so far in his career, each of which has resulted in an NHL contract, and all signs point to this offseason not being much of a change of pace. Chiasson spent last season as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, his first with the team, where he scored 13 goals to go with nine assists in 67 games, the winger’s 2021-22 season doesn’t match him not exactly alongside the big games, but it represented another solid season of play in the last six for a two-way physical player, something he’s brought to every team in his career so far.
A second-round pick of the Dallas Stars in 2009, Chiasson was a highly regarded prospect when he spent three years at Boston University before turning pro at the end of 2011-12. Young Chiasson didn’t wait too long to make his NHL debut either, playing seven games for Dallas during the 2012-13 season, scoring an impressive six goals in the short sample. Since his start with the Stars, Chiasson has played for six different franchises, including Dallas, Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames, Washington Capitals, Edmonton Oilers and, most recently, Vancouver.
Despite transitioning from team to team, Chiasson made a name for himself as a dependable role player wherever he went, providing a physical element while participating on the penalty kill, and even contributing between 10 and 15 goals per season. . Perhaps his most impressive season came not too long ago, when he scored a career-high 22 goals and 16 assists for 38 points in 73 games as a member of the Edmonton Oilers in 2018-19. Aged 32 just before opening night, Chiasson is unlikely to go any further in his game or even repeat the success he enjoyed in Edmonton, but he has been a model of consistency and hard work, two valuable assets to almost any team in the league. He’s likely heading to another PTO, but the odds of seeing him back in the NHL for the 2022-23 season still seem high given his record.
2021-22: 67 GP, 13-9-22, +4 rating, 24 PIMs, 98 shots, 56.3 CF%, 11:37 ATOI
Career: 631 GP, 114-110-224, odds -36, 353 PIM, 896 shots 52.6 CF%, 13:37 ATOI
For his career, Chiasson seems to be used to hanging on to relatively good teams, maybe luckily, but maybe not. Last season, the veteran Vancouver team struggled early, but made a huge push for a playoff spot, narrowly missing out. In the previous two seasons, his Edmonton Oilers have made the playoffs, missing with 79 points in 2018-19, his career year. The highlight of his career was arguably a Stanley Cup championship with the Washington Capitals in 2017-18. One would think, whether this is a happy trend, a personal choice and analysis of Chiasson, or something in particular that he himself brings to the table, that whatever the team he ends up with will at least be a strong contender for a playoff spot.
But, more than a month in free agency and not a star talent, at 32, which suitor is in a position to sign Chiasson? The overwhelming majority of competitive teams not only have their rosters in place, but are so close to, if not above, the salary cap that even a league minimum one-way contract would be impossible to fit in.
Two plausible options that come to mind would be the New York Islanders and the Minnesota Wild. Although all the winger spots appear to be filled on Long Island, the team that has struggled to score goals could add a dozen more as a depth option, and Chiasson’s style of play is in line with preference of the general manager of the Islanders. Lou Lamorello. Minnesota, on the other hand, have been known to look to add another forward and although Chiasson is of course not replacing the star winger Kevin Fialaadding punch to Minnesota’s last six, especially after the departure of Nicolas Deslaurierswould make sense.
Another option for the native of Quebec could be to go abroad. He had been connected with opportunities in Switzerland in late May, but his agent, Pat Morris, was sure to clarify that his client was looking for opportunities in the NHL and mostly hoped for the chance to stay in Vancouver. But, the Canucks general manager Jim Rutherford indicated that they would not make a decision on Chiasson until their agency expired. Now that things are pretty quiet on the free agent front, especially with Vancouver, a comeback for Chiasson doesn’t look too good. However, few PTOs have been signed, and if that is indeed the way for the striker, then we could see his opportunities still to come.
Given his record with both on-ice production and previous deals, as well as the current state of the offseason, Chiasson is almost certainly headed for another PTO. This option may be concerning for some players, and it may not be the most enjoyable position for Chiasson either, but he’s been here before and earned his keep when he did. Chiasson managed to sign an NHL contract after those three takedowns, and moreover after the first he won a Stanley Cup, after his second he was rewarded with a $4.3 million contract on two years, and after his most recent, he found a place he seemed very happy to return to in that of Vancouver
Whether he signs a PTO, then a contract, or receives an outright contract, it also doesn’t look like Chiasson will earn more than the league’s $750,000 minimum salary for 2022-23. It’s not a perfect scenario, and far from the record $2.15 million salary he had with Edmonton from 2019-2021, an NHL contract would give Chiasson another year in the league and another chance to land a free agency deal like him. signed with the Oilers in 2019.