When the Capitals signed Alex Chiasson to a one-year deal with the season opener just around the corner, Washington became his fourth professional home in the last six seasons. At only 27 years old and coming off a season in which he scored 12 goals and totaled 24 points (21 of which came at even-strength), Chiasson wasn’t a bad look for a roster with some opportunity in the bottom-six.
How has Chiasson’s season kicked off? Lets start by examining what the pace of play looks like when he’s on the ice compared to his forward contemporaries.
So, he’s among the slowest pace skaters on the squad, with the team relinquishing shots at a more languid rate than the team median when he’s on the ice, but also generating them at a much lower rate. That’s not inherently bad, but it is worth noting that Chiasson has a negative relCorsi rating on a team that’s currently one of the worst possession teams in the League, which is. As a general note, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov (with whom Chiasson has skated nearly 17 minutes) also meet this dubious criteria, which is a much bigger problem.
With Ovechkin and Kuznetsov, however, you’re more or less getting the production you’d expect to see from players of that caliber. Of course, production expectations for Chiasson are in a different galaxy altogether than those two guys, but he’s still failing to meet them. Chiasson is the only forward on the team who has yet to notched a 5v5 point. In fact, all other forwards besides Tom Wilson, who has skated in three fewer games than Chiasson, have scored primary points (a goal or primary assist) at fives.
To put a finer point on this, let’s expand the scope of our data to include all forwards in the NHL who have seen at least 50 minutes of 5v5 ice time. Of skaters who haven’t found the scoresheet, only seven have skated more minutes than Chiasson. Let’s examine visually:
Alright, so he’s not producing. But it’s still early, and you know what they say: keep shooting and the shots will come. Well...
Chiasson has equaled the 5v5 shot output of noted offensive powerhouse Taylor Chorney, and the only skaters who have notched fewer shots are Aaron Ness and Matt Niskanen, who have skated in seven and five games, respectively. Put another way, more than 1/8th through the season, Brooks Orpik has generated more shots than a guy with more than 100 NHL points to his name. But let’s drill down one step further to shot-attempts.
Yeah, the story isn’t much better here for Monsieur Chiasson. In fact, it’s probably worse. For a forward who spends most of his time on the third line, and has gotten a stint up top with Ovechkin and Kuznetsov, to be the team’s most effective antidote to anything that resembles offense, is an indictment, even acknowledging the samples are still small.
And with a guy like Nathan Walker, who has already done more with far less opportunity, watching the games from the press box night in and night out, perhaps its time for Barry Trotz to revisit who is and, more importantly, who is not an important piece of the puzzle.