It’s not the exciting splash Oilers fans likely wanted when Ken Holland got hired as GM, but bringing back Alex Chiasson doesn’t look like it will hurt the Edmonton Oilers, either.
Announced Monday, Chiasson, a UFA, returns to the Oilers on a two-year deal with a $2.15-million cap hit. It’s a reasonable price considering he just enjoyed a breakout 22-goal season. At 6-foot-4 and 208 pounds, he’s a strong net-front presence, and that translated to eight power-play goals last year. Chiasson isn’t a driver of play, but he enjoyed some success playing with superstar Connor McDavid this past season. If he gets similar opportunities in 2019-20, it’s conceivable he’ll replicate last year’s success. The good news is, even if last year’s shooting percentage of 17.9 regresses toward his career mark of 12.7 and he loses a few goals, he’s not under pressure to set the world on fire at just $2.15 million. Also, because he does his best work so close to the net, he takes a lot of high-percentage shots, so a high shooting percentage is more sustainable for him than most.
The Oilers obviously need to surround McDavid with more speed, and Chiasson clearly does not fit that need, so the move might feel disappointing on paper. But the Oilers weren’t in position to contend for the top UFA forwards such as Artemi Panarin, and overpaying for a mid-tier UFA like Brett Connolly might’ve just created another Milan Lucic situation a few years down the road. Bringing back Chiasson at a much lower number wasn’t the worst idea. Assuming Edmonton doesn’t make any other significant additions at forward, the likes of Kailer Yamamoto and Tyler Benson will get more of an opportunity to compete for jobs this fall. Perhaps Holland has an eye on 2020 as a year to be more aggressive in free agency.
Want more in-depth features, analysis and an All-Access pass to the latest content? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.