Alex Chiasson had a rough year in 2014-15.
He wasn’t used as anything more than a 4th line player at most times and although he did get frequent looks in the top 6, there’s only one game I recall where Chiasson looked like that was a role he could play.
However, he’s a piece the Senators would like to retain, if for no other reason then due to the fact that he was the main piece in the Jason Spezza trade. It’s PR. You can’t move away from a guy you traded your 10-year NHL veteran star center for.
But if Chiasson’s play doesn’t take a step up, or if he can’t find a proper role in the lineup, then perhaps they look to move away from him as early as next year.
And let’s not forget that there is a chance the Senators could have another NHL piece from the Spezza trade by then. If Nick Paul has a good AHL start in Binghamton and continues to improve, there’s no reason to think he’s more than a year from the NHL.
Let’s talk in the immediate. The Senators have a pretty good track record of getting contracts done outside of arbitration. So I’d suspect Chiasson’s deal, which doesn’t seem to be a hard one, would also get done out of arbitration.
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I would guess the Senators’ offer would be just a hair over what he made last season (around 1.1 million) and that Chiasson might look for the neighbourhood of double that (arb. asks are always high).
The team will probably settle for the lower end between the two as 1.2 – 1.4 seems fair on a one-year deal.
For Chiasson, that deal would act as a deal to prove himself. He’s a big forward who has shown what he can do in the past, last year just wasn’t it. He knows he had a poor year and so do the Senators. They want more from him, and quite honestly, with some hard work, I think they can get more from Chiasson.
He looked incredibly slow last year, but he can improve that. He took way too many dumb penalties, but that’s something on the thinking side of the game and something Chiasson can change. He probably won’t become a top 6 forward overnight, but can he be a steady 35-40 point top 9 forward? sure he can.
At the height of his game, I’d look for him to be a net-front presence on the PP and at 5v5, he just needs to adjust the way he goes about fighting for the puck. More with his body and less with his stick, which usually results in a 200-foot away from the net slashing penalty.
Don’t give up on Chiasson just yet. Sure, he didn’t show much last year, in fact, if you took away his early production he didn’t even look like an NHL player during long stretches.
Chiasson’s contract will likely get done in the next few days. I’d look for an out of arbitration agreement to be around 1.2 – 1.4 million on a one-year deal. It’s probably better to do it outside of arbitration and avoid the negative aspects that come along with it. That said, the Senators organization needs to be honest with their expectations of Chiasson, and perhaps that honesty comes the way of offering no more than a one-year deal.