How should the Flames use Alex Chiasson?

Updated: July 28, 2016 at 2:00 pm by christian tiberi

The Fall wrote:

Christian, I would love to see some numbers with Chiasson on the top line: with more emphasis on this time in Dallas.

Well guess what.


Sorry to disappoint you, The Fall, but Chiasson wasn’t really trusted with first line duties in Dallas. The few times he lined up with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn  during the 2013-14 season only totalled to 68.85 5v5 minutes, about five or six games’ worth. In that time, they produced a 51.97CF% with 44.64OZS%. Apart, Benn and Seguin went on their merry way (51.1CF%, 53.0CF% and 35.2OZS%, 34.7OZS% respectively) while Chiasson went some other direction (48.5CF%, 34.8OZS%).

In Ottawa, we get a different story. For the 2014-15 season, he spent the most time with Clarke MacArthur and Kyle Turris in a second line role. Together, they worked pretty well, starting 35.5% of the time in the offensive zone posting a 52.5CF%. Unlike in Dallas, Chiasson and his linemates were all worse off apart (50.6CF% for Chiasson, 50.1CF% for both Turris and MacArthur). This line only lasted for about 150 minutes of EV time, probably due to a low PDO and SV% (96.9 and .886%).

In his most recent year, he spent the most time with Milan Michalek and JG Pageau. They were trusted with Ottawa’s defensive responsibilities, only starting in the offensive zone 15.7% of the time. Predictably, they got buried at 41.9CF%. All three players were better away from each other, mostly because they received a 10% boost in OZS%.

Throughout most of his time in the NHL, Chiasson has been a floater. He’s never stuck around with one particular person (i.e. Monahan and Gaudreau, Backlund and Frolik, etc) and is mostly shuffled around lines. His ceiling is that of a second liner, but he’s never really had that much experience in the role. It is quite hard to get a grip on where he should best be used considering he has been used everywhere for short periods of time.


Perhaps this will help. Let’s focus on Chiasson’s usage metrics over the past four years.

2012-13 42.51 40.22% 49.41 50.53
2013-14 49.51 34.90% 50.62 49.95
2014-15 50.86 33.75% 50.20 49.60
2015-16 43.66 23.32% 47.52 50.28

His two best seasons, 2013-14 and 2014-15, were achieved through a couple of things. He received very balanced offensive zone time and faced off against opponents’ weaker players. It is important to note that he wasn’t necessarily doing this with the best his team had to offer.

To try and maximize success, Chiasson should probably be used against other teams’ bottom six players in balanced roles. This sounds very obvious, but it is where he will statistically have the best success. He’s not a niche player that succeeds in certain 5v5 circumstances, and he didn’t suceed when put in those circumstances. The easier it is, the better for Chiasson.

Special teams

Chiasson has quite a few connections to this team. The overstated one is to new Head Coach Glen Gulutzan, who was Chiasson’s direct superior for all of seven games before GG got canned. While not a strong direct connection, we have to recognize that Gulutzan probably had a good handle on how best to use Chiasson. 

The other connection is new assistant David Cameron, Ottawa’s head coach last year. Both bosses used Chiasson on their special teams, bringing intrigue about how he will be used in Calgary.

Chiasson received extensive powerplay time in Dallas. His breakout season in 2013-14 was mostly because he spent 251 minutes on the man advantage, cobbling together 13 points along the way. On ice, his CF60 was 115.52, individually contributing 19.33 iCF.

Those numbers dropped when he moved to Ottawa and was placed into the hands of powerplay whizkid Dave Cameron (anyone know what he’s up to nowadays?). His powerplay time was nearly halved, and his point totals dropped like a rock. That impressive CF60 number dropped down to 94.88 in 2014-15, and 78.76 in 2015-16. If he was a Calgary Flame this past season, he would have been the third worst powerplay man.

On the other side of things, Chiasson has become a very good penalty killer. In his first two full seasons with Dallas and Ottawa, he didn’t receive much usage (50.34 and 69.44 TOI respectively) but produced some great results. His CA60 stats were 72.71 in 2013-14 and 69.12 in 2014-15.

For the past season, when he received 118.11 PK minutes, he posted a not-as-impressive 89.41 CA60. By this measure, he was the fourth best PKer on the Sens. If he was on the Flames, Chiasson would’ve been the third best, a mere .26 CA60 behind Mikael Backlund.

Chiasson will hopefully slot in as an effective penalty killer for the team. Working under Paul Jerrard and working with Backlund, Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, et al. could potentially bring a top tier penalty kill to Calgary. 

Don’t expect the same to be true for the powerplay. Many people have hopes he can recapture his offensive side, but don’t count on it. He might be a suitable option for the second unit, but he shouldn’t be trusted with major minutes.

Final thoughts

Alex Chiasson is a nomad on ice. In Dallas and in Ottawa, he has been bounced around from sheltered first liner to buried fourth liner. He went from powerplay piece to penalty kill workhorse. In four short years, he’s seen almost everything.

In Calgary, I expect more of the same bouncing around. Considering the full scope of a season, he seems neither primed for a defensive shutdown role, nor a purely offensive role. He’s a fine shot suppressor, but not with heavy, heavy defensive minutes. He has put up points in the past, but not in enough volume to consider offensive usage.

He’ll slip and slide throughout the lineup depending on what night it is, but I feel Chiasson will mostly be used with third or fourth line minutes with PK time (a Ferland-Stajan-Chiasson line is pretty cool to me). Providing Gulutzan doesn’t give the bottom six the burden of DZS time, like Hartley did, they’ll be fine.