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Conclusion? Keep. His power play work alone earns him a call back. His solid play in the playoffs is what the Oilers are going to need in the summer of 2021.
McCurdy on Chiasson
Last summer when Ken Holland was signing all kinds of bottom-six class forwards to one-year “show me” contracts, he made two exceptions. On Jul 01 he committed to a pair of two-year extensions, re-upping RFA forward Jujhar Khaira at an AAV of $1.2 million, and bringing back pending UFA winger Alex Chiasson at an AAV of $2.15 million.
The Chiasson deal in particular has drawn plenty of criticism for both its cap hit and even its modest term. As 22-goal scorers on the open market go, Chiasson came relatively cheaply, though critics of the deal pointed to his first season in Edmonton as a “career year” unlikely to be duplicated. After all, he had scored between 8 and 13 in each of his previous five seasons prior to the breakout. Sure enough, in 2019-20 he produced just 11-13-24 in 65 games.
That said the player brought plenty of value in two important ways: · As a low-event player at 5v5. Oilers allowed just 1.65 goals per 60 minutes on his watch, the best such rate on the club. His 52.5% goal share made him the only bottom sixer above the water line at evens, even as many of his peers were bleeding heavily.
As a highly-effective net-front presence on Edmonton’s historically productive power play unit. He split time with James Neal who scored more power play goals, however the unit as a whole was more efficient with Chiasson, scoring a sensational 13.82 PPG /60 during his 143 minutes. As detailed here, that was the best figure in the entire NHL, ahead even of his own high-powered teammates who were a little less efficient with AC on the bench. By far the lowest-paid member of the first unit, Chiasson did the grunt work, screening goalies, occupying defenders, and opening passing lanes behind him for the stars to work their magic, then crashing the boards to aid in puck recovery and restart the cycle. Occasionally he’d tap one home himself, but he did his best work away from the puck.
Conclusion: Keep. Mine is a minority opinion that Chiasson covered the bet in his first year at his new pay grade, but I think he’s a quality veteran who would be missed if the team moved on from him. He remains under contract, and a trade seems unlikely in any event.
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