Alex Chiasson’s New Contract Is Worth It For Ottawa

Three days after the arbitration began, the arbitrator for Alex Chiasson and the Ottawa Senators has given him $1.2 million for next season. It was odd to see the announcement today and not yesterday, but we finally know what he was awarded. It was lower than I expected, and although I am not his biggest fan it is still a solid deal.

Chiasson has been under a lot of scrutiny ever since coming over from Dallas in the Jason Spezza trade, and some of it is warranted and some is not. For starters, it’s unfair to expect him to be a first line player, or even a top-six player. I just don’t think he will be that kind of guy. Having said that, we can’t just give him a free pass, because there were stretches last season where he looked completely lost.

So while he’s not the greatest player, he is still worth (at least) the $1.2 million he received. At the age of 24, it’s not the worst thing to bet on him, and it’s only a one-year contract. He might be better than people think, especially defensively.

Here are his career stats, which paint him as a third line player in the NHL so far.

He had some success at the college level, so there’s some hope that he can perhaps rediscover his scoring touch but I doubt it. The one thing that stands out for me is his penalty minutes from last year. 67 minutes is way too much, especially after getting just 38 the year before.

I can remember Chiasson taking so many bad penalties last year, and if he wants to help the team he has to improve on that. While his point totals aren’t that impressive, there are some signs that are a bit encouraging. For starters, let’s look at his cap hit comparables:

Besides the two goalies on this list, it isn’t that impressive. So it’s not like Ottawa had to break the bank for him (well, considering their standards maybe they did) as other players who make that much are about as good or even worse than Chiasson.

From a value standpoint, the contract is fine. Furthermore, Chiasson was the 2nd best amongst forwards and 4th overall on the team in limiting shot attempts. Surprisingly he was actually slightly above average in overall possession, with a 50.9% CF (7th on the team) and a +0.8 corsi relative (8th). In fact, only when he was without Erik Karlsson or Marc Methot did he post negative possession numbers, as without every other player he was able to hold steady. Using War On Ice’s Bombay chart, he looks like an exactly average player:

But you know what? That’s fine if he’s average, because $1.2 million is quite cheap for that sort of production. Not every player on the team has to be amazing, and Ottawa sorely needs a solid bottom-six. I doubt he will ever be a possession driver like Erik Condra was, but he could be solid in a role on the third or fourth line. Using a HERO chart, he basically looks like how I have been describing him: a bottom six player that can suppress shots.

His point production looks solid, as that’s really all Ottawa needs. Their top-six is set right now, and he shouldn’t try to be replacing anyone’s point totals.

A lot of people have been upset that Chiasson is still on the team, and someone like Condra isn’t, and I can understand that. But at the same time, it would be foolish to simply give up on him, as he can be a fine piece on the third or fourth line. Later in the season he could be paired with say Shane Prince and Matt Puempel. Doesn’t that sound better than Colin Greening with Prince and Puempel?

He will never be an integral part of the team, but every contender needs role players that can score the occasional goal

$1.2 million is hardly anything, and although Chiasson hasn’t lived up to the expectations he’s still worth it. He will never be an integral part of the team, but every contender needs role players that can score the occasional goal.

I’m excited to see if he has any motivation for next year because if he takes a step back then he might not have any lives left with the Senators.