FlamesNation Player Evaluations: Alex Chiasson

What’s the value of a second round pick?

Alex Chiasson, apparently. Not only was he originally drafted in the second round of the 2009 NHL draft, but he was acquired in a one-for-one swap for Patrick Sieloff, a second round pick of the Flames in 2012. And who knows if Sieloff will ever see the NHL in a meaningful way – but we know Chiasson is, in fact, an everyday NHLer. And ultimately, his first season as a Flame was a pretty good one.

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2016-17 season summary

Chiasson didn’t have the best season of his career, but he did rebound from his worst. Who knows if he’ll ever be a 30+ point forward again – probably not – but his 24 points (12 goals, 12 assists) did put him 13th in team scoring.

There’s probably some thought that he only scored so much due to his linemates and ice time. He did play a lot of minutes alongside Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, after all (the only other forwards he spent more ice time with were Sam Bennett and Matt Stajan). The 13:23 he averaged per game was 18th on the Flames in ice time, though; the only regulars he averaged more than were Micheal Ferland, Stajan, and Lance Bouma.

As for Chiasson’s scoring, eight of his points were picked up with the help of Gaudreau, and nine with Monahan’s help; about a third of his offence came from playing alongside them, so that absolutely is a valid point. Is Chiasson able to be a 20+ point player without their aid? That much is certainly unclear.

Here’s the thing with Chiasson’s extended time in the top six, though: he’s Bouma or Joe Colborne without the shooting percentage.

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Chiasson had the highest shooting percentage of his career – 11.5% – but that’s not a big drift from his 11.0% career average. Meanwhile, in years past, Bouma and Colborne got signed to bigger contracts after playing in the top six – spots too far elevated for their overall talent – and putting up shooting percentages of 15.4% and 19.0% respectively, major drifts from their overall 8.4% and 13.7%. Bouma and Colborne looked successful in their top six spots – even though it was not sustainable – because they were scoring at an inflated rate. Chiasson shot just as much as they did over those years, but his numbers stayed truer to his career average – i.e., this is sustainable – and so he looked like a failure when, at the time, Bouma and Colborne did not.

If Chiasson’s shooting percentage had spiked I guarantee you nobody would have had a problem with his top six status and there would be a feeling to lock him up to a Bouma-esque contract, a substantial raise over the very manageable $800k in depth he costs that actually fits him perfectly.

Chiasson played 51:58 on the powerplay and put up two assists; he was the right shot used primarily when Kris Versteeg was unavailable. He also played 75:18 on the penalty kill and had one shorthanded goal. As an ideal depth player he probably shouldn’t have seen as much powerplay time as he did, but he also probably could have stood to see more penalty kill time – or at least more than Bouma did.

Compared to last season

Chiasson rebounded points-wise, scoring an extra 10, all the while seeing about as much playing time. But where he really shone was his underlying numbers. Via Corsica:

Chiasson’s corsi jumped up when he came to Calgary, to the point of driving play north nearly the entire year. He averaged a 5v5 CF of 51.98%, the highest on the team after the big five consisting of the 3M line, Dougie Hamilton, and Mark Giordano. Sure, he was somewhat sheltered in accomplishing that – and I’m guessing playing the same position as Troy Brouwer helped spare his numbers – but fact is, if you’re going to feed a guy zone starts like that, the least he can do is stay above 50%. For most of the season, Chiasson did exactly that.

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He did have the benefit of some superior circumstances while the Flames were trying to figure out just who should go on their top line, but it’s not as though he did anything particularly wrong throughout the year. He’s as quality a big depth player as you’re likely to find.

Most common linemates

Chiasson’s only crime when playing alongside Gaudreau and Monahan was not being particularly offensively gifted. That’s it. He didn’t really impact them much, good or bad, any other way – he was a warm body who could, at least in part, keep up.

Really, there aren’t that many dramatics when it comes to Chiasson’s WOWY, which points towards a steady player who can move throughout the lineup with little chaos (and the only downside being his overall lack of scoring talent). The most drama you see is in regards to Versteeg’s numbers, which offers a relatively tiny sample size – just 142:18 5v5 minutes played together, compared to the 431:27 he spent alongside Brouwer – that suggests Chiasson (or literally anyone other than Brouwer, really) could be a better fit.

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Oh, and that he had better numbers sharing the ice with Hamilton than with Deryk Engelland, but that’s hardly a shocker.

What’s next?

It’s possible Chiasson ends up in Vegas next season, as the Flames will likely expose him for the expansion draft, and he offers a lot to like as a depth player. He’s big, he has moderate scoring talent, he’s capable of driving play forward: all are ideal to have.

If Vegas chooses someone else, though, then it’s those factors that should make him a good bet to stay with the Flames. He probably won’t get as much favouritism next season – not with the potential for an upgrade at forward and, even then, Ferland’s catching lightning in a bottle – but it’s easy to see Chiasson coming back on, say, a $1 million deal and continuing to, at absolute worst, provide steady play for the Flames in limited minutes, plus penalty kill time.

It’s not flashy, but as long as he gets the job done, there’s no reason to not like him.

#1 – Brian Elliott #5 – Mark Giordano
#6 – Dennis Wideman #7 – T.J. Brodie
#10 – Kris Versteeg #11 – Mikael Backlund
#13 – Johnny Gaudreau #17 – Lance Bouma
#18 – Matt Stajan #19 – Matthew Tkachuk
#23 – Sean Monahan #25 – Freddie Hamilton
#26 – Michael Stone #27 – Dougie Hamilton
#29 – Deryk Engelland #31 – Chad Johnson
#36 – Troy Brouwer

  • cjc

    I never quite got the Chiasson hate. Miscast as a top six fwd., yes, but the team was so thin down the right side that we should be satisfied with his performance on an 800 K contract.

    • PrairieStew

      Completely agree. Chiasson effectively replaced Colborne on the roster – at about a third of what Big Joe made in Colorado – and produced considerably more. His production per minute divided by his salary is a very good value. People may say he is easily replaceable, you might be able to get someone that cheap, or someone that good but tough to get both. (Versteeg). If he is lost to Vegas in expansion Tre might have to go shopping in the UFA bargain bin in August to replace him.

  • buts

    Great size but a 4th liner at best and a guy in that position should be at a low dollar contract. I hope management gives guys on the farm a shot at his 4th line position. Dangle a carrot for his position and if someone can’t maintain productivity consistently then reward the boys in Stockton that perform with a call up. It’s time to see what Poirier, Klimchuk, Shinkaruk and many more can do. Sometimes they just need a shot in the bigs to get over the hump.

  • L.Kolkind

    With Chiasson we have a solid middle 6 RW and Lazar should probably be on the 3rd line which leaves either Frolik or Versteeg to playon the top line assuming we resign Versteeg. Brouwer gets press box duty as he is a detriment to the team when he is on the ice. It also doesn’t matter if Brouwer sits in the press box all year as long as he doesn’t take away opportunites for our prospects who are al probably a step above Brouwer. Chiasson I think was a great trade by Treliving, Sieloff who I did like as a pick has had a ton of injury prblems and was no longer considered a top defensive prospect as Kulak, Kylington, Hickey, Wotherspoon, and Fox have all passed Sieloff as far as left handed defensive prospects go. Considering we traded a prospect who would likely amount to nothing in the Flames orginization for a player who can keep his hed above water and play up and down the lineup this may be one of Treliving’s top trades. Chiasson isn’t going to wow you with his skill, but he works hard has far better hands than Colbourne and Bouma and generally makes the smart/safe play to get the puck out of harms way. I do think Chiasson shouldn’t be on the top line however if GG slotted him in almost anywhere else in the lineup it would be hard to complain with his usage. Because of Calgary’s current lack of a top end RW I think splitting up the 3M line, might be a valid option to give Gaudreau and Monahan someone with more offensive ability to work with.

    Gaudreau – Monahan – Frolik
    Tkachuk – Backlund – Chiasson
    Ferland – Bennett – Versteeg/Lazar
    Jankowski – Stajan – Versteeg/Lazar

    The now 2M line coud easily carry Chiasson without being brought down too much, while Gaudreau and Monahan would find their missing Hudler in Frolik. Having one super line left the rest of the lineup too weak especially when Brouwer was being played on the top line.

    • L.Kolkind

      The problem with that is that we have too many LW’s. Gaudreau and Tkachuk are undisputably our #1,2 LW’s and Ferland I believe works best on his natural side. We then have the problem of wanting to bring up one of Jankowski or Shinkaruk either of whom should be on the 4th line LW to start learning the NHL game. I really do like Versteeg and maybe he could fit in with Tkachuk and Backlund on the 2nd line? He didn’t seem to fit in too well with Johnny and Monahan, which leaves me to believe that someone like Frolik is needed to play with on the top line. What do you think of these lines?

      Gaudreau – Monahan – Frolik
      Tkachuk – Backlund – Versteeg
      Ferland – Bennett – Chiasson/Lazar
      Shinkaruk/Jankowski – Stajan – Chiasson/Lazar
      Scratches Bouma, Brouwer, F.Hamilton

      I like Chiasson’s versatility and he didn’t do bad with Bennett, but I really like the tenacity of Ferland and Bennett on the same line. Plus this has the added bonus of everyone playing on their natural sides. Also, I really don’t want to have either Shinkaruk or Jankowski sitting in the press box too much.

        • L.Kolkind

          Good luck getting Brouwer to outplay anybody I have in the lineup ahead of him. The guy is past his prime, and even when he was at his prime he was a bottom 6 player. As mentioned yesterday Brouwer is a sunk cost and at this point, we have no use having him in the lineup. He doesn’t play like a big man, fight or intimidate the other team, he isn’t good defensively and offensively we are literally better having 2 forwards as that way they can’t pass to him and have him give the puck to the other team.

          I’m not the coach though and I think that Treliving has already realised Brouwer isn’t up to par which is why he traded for Lazar. Brouwer at the end of this year already was playing 4th line duty with Stajan and Bouma and Brouwer looked awful doing that. You can say good luck getting Brouwer to sit, but do you have any better alternatives?

          • Puckhead

            Brouwer sucks but getting Lazar to replace him is risky and could also lead to a world of suck (hopefully there’s more behind that smile).

            Unfortunately, the best we can probably hope for is that Tre makes a trade where the other GM doesn’t read the fine print which includes Brouwer in the deal.

            At the end of the day Brouwer is on Tre and if GG is crazy enough to play him it’s his job to lose.

      • freethe flames

        I can’t imagine they will break up Backs&Frolik. My line up would be similar but I really could see Janko’s game being a fit with them. Johnny/Monny/Ferland, Janko/Backs/Frolik, Tkachuk/Bennett/Versteeg(Chiasson), then I really don’t know about the 4th line but Iwould prefer to see kids than the $10m line.