How should the Flames use Alex Chiasson?

The Fall wrote:

Christian, I would love to see some numbers with Chiasson on the top line: with more emphasis on this time in Dallas.

Well guess what.


Sorry to disappoint you, The Fall, but Chiasson wasn’t really trusted with first line duties in Dallas. The few times he lined up with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn  during the 2013-14 season only totalled to 68.85 5v5 minutes, about five or six games’ worth. In that time, they produced a 51.97CF% with 44.64OZS%. Apart, Benn and Seguin went on their merry way (51.1CF%, 53.0CF% and 35.2OZS%, 34.7OZS% respectively) while Chiasson went some other direction (48.5CF%, 34.8OZS%).

In Ottawa, we get a different story. For the 2014-15 season, he spent the most time with Clarke MacArthur and Kyle Turris in a second line role. Together, they worked pretty well, starting 35.5% of the time in the offensive zone posting a 52.5CF%. Unlike in Dallas, Chiasson and his linemates were all worse off apart (50.6CF% for Chiasson, 50.1CF% for both Turris and MacArthur). This line only lasted for about 150 minutes of EV time, probably due to a low PDO and SV% (96.9 and .886%).

In his most recent year, he spent the most time with Milan Michalek and JG Pageau. They were trusted with Ottawa’s defensive responsibilities, only starting in the offensive zone 15.7% of the time. Predictably, they got buried at 41.9CF%. All three players were better away from each other, mostly because they received a 10% boost in OZS%.

Throughout most of his time in the NHL, Chiasson has been a floater. He’s never stuck around with one particular person (i.e. Monahan and Gaudreau, Backlund and Frolik, etc) and is mostly shuffled around lines. His ceiling is that of a second liner, but he’s never really had that much experience in the role. It is quite hard to get a grip on where he should best be used considering he has been used everywhere for short periods of time.


Perhaps this will help. Let’s focus on Chiasson’s usage metrics over the past four years.

2012-13 42.51 40.22% 49.41 50.53
2013-14 49.51 34.90% 50.62 49.95
2014-15 50.86 33.75% 50.20 49.60
2015-16 43.66 23.32% 47.52 50.28

His two best seasons, 2013-14 and 2014-15, were achieved through a couple of things. He received very balanced offensive zone time and faced off against opponents’ weaker players. It is important to note that he wasn’t necessarily doing this with the best his team had to offer.

To try and maximize success, Chiasson should probably be used against other teams’ bottom six players in balanced roles. This sounds very obvious, but it is where he will statistically have the best success. He’s not a niche player that succeeds in certain 5v5 circumstances, and he didn’t suceed when put in those circumstances. The easier it is, the better for Chiasson.

Special teams

Chiasson has quite a few connections to this team. The overstated one is to new Head Coach Glen Gulutzan, who was Chiasson’s direct superior for all of seven games before GG got canned. While not a strong direct connection, we have to recognize that Gulutzan probably had a good handle on how best to use Chiasson. 

The other connection is new assistant David Cameron, Ottawa’s head coach last year. Both bosses used Chiasson on their special teams, bringing intrigue about how he will be used in Calgary.

Chiasson received extensive powerplay time in Dallas. His breakout season in 2013-14 was mostly because he spent 251 minutes on the man advantage, cobbling together 13 points along the way. On ice, his CF60 was 115.52, individually contributing 19.33 iCF.

Those numbers dropped when he moved to Ottawa and was placed into the hands of powerplay whizkid Dave Cameron (anyone know what he’s up to nowadays?). His powerplay time was nearly halved, and his point totals dropped like a rock. That impressive CF60 number dropped down to 94.88 in 2014-15, and 78.76 in 2015-16. If he was a Calgary Flame this past season, he would have been the third worst powerplay man.

On the other side of things, Chiasson has become a very good penalty killer. In his first two full seasons with Dallas and Ottawa, he didn’t receive much usage (50.34 and 69.44 TOI respectively) but produced some great results. His CA60 stats were 72.71 in 2013-14 and 69.12 in 2014-15.

For the past season, when he received 118.11 PK minutes, he posted a not-as-impressive 89.41 CA60. By this measure, he was the fourth best PKer on the Sens. If he was on the Flames, Chiasson would’ve been the third best, a mere .26 CA60 behind Mikael Backlund.

Chiasson will hopefully slot in as an effective penalty killer for the team. Working under Paul Jerrard and working with Backlund, Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, et al. could potentially bring a top tier penalty kill to Calgary. 

Don’t expect the same to be true for the powerplay. Many people have hopes he can recapture his offensive side, but don’t count on it. He might be a suitable option for the second unit, but he shouldn’t be trusted with major minutes.

Final thoughts

Alex Chiasson is a nomad on ice. In Dallas and in Ottawa, he has been bounced around from sheltered first liner to buried fourth liner. He went from powerplay piece to penalty kill workhorse. In four short years, he’s seen almost everything.

In Calgary, I expect more of the same bouncing around. Considering the full scope of a season, he seems neither primed for a defensive shutdown role, nor a purely offensive role. He’s a fine shot suppressor, but not with heavy, heavy defensive minutes. He has put up points in the past, but not in enough volume to consider offensive usage.

He’ll slip and slide throughout the lineup depending on what night it is, but I feel Chiasson will mostly be used with third or fourth line minutes with PK time (a Ferland-Stajan-Chiasson line is pretty cool to me). Providing Gulutzan doesn’t give the bottom six the burden of DZS time, like Hartley did, they’ll be fine.

  • Brownblazer

    I’ve always had my eye on Chiasson, due to the fact that Dobber had him rated quite high (ie in his 2011 Fantasy prospects report he had him with an upside potential of Blake Wheeler (25-40-65 pts and 80 pim)).

    My theory is that power forwards with size tend to take longer to develop – I wonder (hope?) if this is the case with Chiasson. He’s only 25 – I hope the flames give him a shot with both quality line mates and minutes (including pp time).

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    I liked Jooris the first year he was in the league, I think his confidence waned last year under Hartley. He always had too worry about being in the line up and tried to do too much when he got in.

    It says that Jooris is 6’1 and 195 lbs but I doubt that. He seemed to get knocked off the puck too often. Chaisson may have better tools and size to be a bottom 6 player than Josh. Jooris never got to be on a line with his buddies, Sean and Johnny last year like he did the previous year.

  • JumpJet

    I think having a capable nomad like Chiasson will be great for the Flames this season. BT has talked about organizing his lines in pairs (Monahan-Gaudreau, Backlund-Frolik) so I can see Chiasson being the third guy on any line. If something isn’t working you shuffle the third man and see what happens. Brouwer might find himself in a similar situation as the season develops.

  • Baalzamon

    Unlike in Dallas, Chiasson and his linemates were all worse off apart (50.6CF% for Chiasson, 50.1CF% for both Turris and MacArthur). This line only lasted for about 150 minutes of EV time, probably due to a low PDO and SV% (96.9 and .886%).

    Sounds like Gaudreau – Monahan – Ferland. Flames need to try that unit again at some point.

    • Pretty good comparison! Since 14/15, JG+SM+MF have played 144 minutes together, producing a 53.8CF% (all are way worse separate) with 34.8OZS%. 90.16SV% and a 6.17SH% probably sank that line. I’m for that idea, especially if all three take another step forward next year.

  • Schmenkley

    Chiasson will see some time on the right side of Johnny and Monohan, until he proves incapable of keeping up and being the net front presence that that line sorely needs. If he isn’t effective, you slide him down the lineup to one of the other lines.

    Pretty low-risk gamble by BT in my view.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Christian, I would love to see an article on Huska’s effectiveness as a coach.

    Specifically player development and winning games …..(Unfortunately I have a feeling systems and special teams will be explained away by saying that he was just following Hartleys systems, which is obviously bs……).


    • OKG

      NHLers Huska coached in Junior

      Jamie Benn
      Tyson BarrieLuke Schenn
      Tyler Myers
      Mikael Backlund
      Damon Severson

      Flames prospects that took a major developmental step forward under Huska

      John Ramage
      Tyler Wotherspoon
      Micheal Ferland
      Garnet Hathaway
      Brett Kulak
      Patrick Sieloff
      Turner Elson
      Kenny Agostino
      Oliver Kylington
      Derek Grant

      Flames prospects still looking to take a major developmental step forward under Huska

      Ryan Culkin (Injuries, 1Y remaining)
      Kenney Morrison (Terrible Hockey IQ, 1Y remaining)
      Hunter Smith (2Y remaining)
      Austin Caroll (2Y remaining)
      Morgan Klimchuk (2Y remaining)
      Emile Poirier (2Y remaining)

      • The GREAT Walter White

        “John Ramage Tyler Wotherspoon Micheal Ferland Garnet Hathaway Brett Kulak Patrick Sieloff Turner Elson Kenny Agostino Oliver Kylington Derek Grant”

        That is a sad sack of prospects. Most have been let go by the organization, the rest have done nothing under Huska…


    • The Fall

      Getty Images is being sued for a billion dollars. …seems you’re not allowed to take free content, monetize it, then extort the people who actually created it.