In the least unexpected move of the preseason the Vancouver Canucks waived forward Zack MacEwen Tuesday morning and signed winger Alex Chiasson to a one-year contract worth $750,000. Chiasson had been skating on a line with JT Miller and Elias Pettersson during Monday’s practice, just prior to the club’s season opening roster announcement, and was skating with the same linemates on Tuesday. The official press release on his contract came after Chiasson had already taken the ice, exactly fifteen minutes after the announcement that MacEwen had been “designated for assignment.”
Chiasson’s signing marks the successful completion of his Professional Try-Out (PTO) effort, the third time in his career he has managed this accomplishment. At the start of training camp, he confidently described his game, his past successes in trying out and making NHL teams, the Washington Capitals in 2017 and the Edmonton Oilers in 2018, and the fact he thought he could score fifteen goals this season.
Wednesday night he’ll open the season wearing Vancouver Canucks white, blue and green against his former club.
“He’s a veteran player, he brings a lot to the power play, he had a good camp, good to add him to the team,” Head Coach Travis Green said about Chiasson.
For Chiasson, it’s a lot about net-front presence, particularly on the man advantage.
“You can say all day long, go to the net, stand in front of the net,” Green added, “there’s timing to it, there’s a courage to it. People on the outside don’t understand the courage it takes to stand there when guys are taking one-timers and that, and there’s not a lot of guys that are good at it in the league.”
Ultimately Green seems to prefer experience over youth, and in the case of Chiasson he gets a 31-year-old who understands the nuances, and does so with a certain swagger.
“There’s a lot of times when we’re showing our game reviews, we’re showing wall work with our wingers and he’s been in a lot of them,” Green said. “Just leading the play, knowing when to get there, protecting the puck, understanding where (his) guys are coming to get the puck and understanding where the other players are, sometimes that takes a little time for players to pick up.”
Also skating with the team Tuesday morning was winger Juho Lammikko, the Finnish left winger acquired Sunday from the Florida Panthers. He’s on the trip with the 23-man roster to Edmonton.
After practice Tuesday Green told his team at centre ice, “You guys are ready to play, that was the best practice of the year …” to stick taps from the Canucks.