Today is the deadline for qualifying restricted free agents, or letting them go to unrestricted free agency. To that end, there’s news across the league as NHL teams decide who they want to keep, and who they may let go to free agency.
Or, there’s a third option: trade your restricted free agents. If you aren’t going to qualify them, might as well get something back rather than lose them for nothing, right?
The Flames have traded prospect Patrick Sieloff for the rights to Alex Chiasson. The Flames have also signed Chiasson, who was a restricted free agent – oh, and a 25-year-old, 6’3, 208 lb. right winger, to boot.
Who is Alex Chiasson?
Chiasson instantly fits in with the Flames’ age group – albeit, a little on the older side – and fills a positional need. He actually might be the second best right winger in the organization right now, which kind of says something on its own. (Michael Frolik is better – but he’s a left shot. Chiasson is a pure righty.)
He has played for both the Dallas Stars and Ottawa Senators. He has 239 NHL games to his name, and 82 points to go along with them (.34 points per game career). This past season, he played 77 games for the Sens, scoring just eight goals and six assists for 14 points. He was only 11th in Senators scoring, though he has put up more points in the past, at least.
Chiasson is coming off of a one-year, $1.2 million contract from the 2015-16 season. He has been signed to a one-year deal, $800k deal with Calgary: an extremely cheap deal that the Flames need right now, as they face this season’s impending cap crunch.
How should he be used?
Via Corsica, we can take a glimpse at Ottawa’s player usage throughout the 2015-16 season. Circled in black is Chiasson (click for full-sized image):
The Senators placed Chiasson in a primarily defensive role, with just 23.32% offensive zone starts, which may help explain some of his low points totals (he was far more sheltered in the 2014-15 season, in which he received more offensive zone starts and put up 25 points).
However, playing with some of the worst starts on the Senators didn’t exactly help Chiasson. His 5v5 CF last season was 43.66%, which was the second worst out of all Senators who played at least half the season; only Curtis Lazar and his 42.84% were worse, as well as four other players who didn’t even hit the 40 game mark.
So how should the Flames use him? If they want to get more out of him, he may need to play more often starting from the offensive zone. In 2014-15, when he had an offensive zone start of 33.75% – more than 10% than he had this season – he had a 5v5 CF of 50.86%, which is an absolutely insane jump extremely reflective of his changing roles.
Farewell, Patrick Sieloff
Going into the 2012 NHL Draft, the Flames rated Sieloff rather high – to the point where, if Mark Jankowski hadn’t been available when it came time to make their first round pick, they may have taken Sieloff there instead.
Instead, they traded down to recuperate a second round pick used to take him. A big bodied, hard-hitting defenceman with giant ears, he kind of embodied Robyn Regehr.
Unfortunately, a staph infection kept Sieloff on the sidelines for pretty much his entire first professional season. He worked to rebound in 2013-14 onwards, and found himself as a steady part of the Flames’ AHL bluelines over the past two seasons; however, his complete lack of scoring ability was something of a concern – particularly as the Flames’ defence prospects started shifting to those who played a more mobile game.
Between guys like Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington, Tyler Wotherspoon, Brett Kulak, Ryan Culkin, and even Kenney Morrison and new additions such as Adam Fox (although he’s going to college), spots have become a premium – and Keegan Kanzig is a similar type of player to Sieloff already, as well. There simply wasn’t much space for him.
But this is what you do: you trade from areas of strength (defence) to fill areas of need (right wing).
Sieloff did get his first NHL game (and goal) in with the Flames at the end of the 2015-16 season, so that’s at least a very high note for him to depart on as he continues his professional career with a different organization.