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