His past is clear and to him, so is his future. Alex Chiasson has been down the Professional Try-Out (PTO) route before with great success, and the 30-year-old right wing is confident he can make the Vancouver Canucks. GM Jim Benning signed Chiasson to a try-out on Wednesday and the big forward was on the ice in Abbotsford with the second training camp group on Thursday. It’s simple. Make the team, earn a real contract.
“I got 42 goals (over) the last three years,” Chiasson pointed out. “I think I can still go and given the opportunity, where I’m at physically, mentally, I think I can score 15 goals, I really believe that.”
Why doubt him. The Montreal native earned a PTO with the Washington Capitals in 2017 after failing to come to an arrangement with his previous club, the Calgary Flames. Getting 4th line minutes, he tallied nine goals and nine assists that season, played in 16 playoff games and won a Stanley Cup. Oddly enough, by far the most minutes he played that campaign was in a game against the Vancouver Canucks on October 26th when he totalled 23 shifts and had 17:36 in ice time.
Next up, the Edmonton Oilers. Same personal success story minus the Cup. He went from signing a PTO in 2018, making the club and getting a league minimum contract for $650,000 his first season there, to playing on the power play with the likes of Connor McDavid, scoring 22 goals and 38 points, and earning a two-year contract extension for $4.3-million dollars. By the end of the deal his production had slipped, although he did manage to score his 100th career NHL goal this past April 26th in Winnipeg. After that evening, he managed four points over his final ten games as an Oiler, plus a fight at home on May 6th against Vancouver Canucks defenceman Travis Hamonic.
So here he is again.
“He’s a fourth line guy, a bigger body, good at the net front power play, he’s won, understands what it takes to win” stated Canucks Head Coach Travis Green. “I don’t know the number exactly but it feels like it might be the youngest group of forwards probably that we’ve had here in the last four years, and there’s gonna have to be some voices in the room from the older guys and we’ll see where that goes with ‘Chase’.”
Some have penciled Zack MacEwen, with a year remaining at $825,000, into the 4th line right wing spot. Another big body at 6’3″ and 205 pounds, similar to Chiasson at 6’4″, 208, MacEwen has seen some opportunity with 55 games over the last three seasons with Vancouver. How much intimidation and energy is he bringing with his grand total of nine points? Neither player is afraid. Again, oddly, on the same night Chiasson fought Hamonic, MacEwen earned a one game suspension for kneeing Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse.
There are other options. William Lockwood should garner a serious look, Justin Bailey as well, while a number of depth lefties can play both sides of the ice.
The position is wide open and the competition is on. The Canucks were looking for another alternative at an affordable price and it’s why Chiasson is here. As many as a half dozen teams apparently expressed interest in him. He chose to give it a try with Vancouver.
“You ask the people that know me, I’ve had to earn to stay in the NHL and I think playing in the league is a privilege,” Chiasson said. “Obviously being in Edmonton the last three years, I always thought Vancouver was a team that was hard for us to play against. They’ve added some key pieces throughout their team, they’ve got solid goaltending, so, I gotta go, I gotta earn it.”