The Caps are looking for a couple of wingers.
Alex Chiasson is looking for a job.
Can they help one another out? Training camp is just a couple of days old, but it already looks like a strong possibility.
“He’s got really great size,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “You can tell he’s a pro. He’s got really good hands. He seems to have a good net front presence at times, and he gets around the ice really well.”
The Caps signed Chiasson to a professional tryout agreement (PTO) on Sept. 9 – two-plus months after Calgary did not extend a qualifying offer to him.
Asked if he was surprised by the Flames’ decision to cut him loose after he posted 12 goals and 12 assists in 81 games, Chiasson said, “A little, yes.”
His agent had conversations with a few teams but no contract offers were made.
“It’s frustrating as a player but then you just got to turn the page,” he said. “You have to accept that that’s the way it is. I’m still fairly young and I know I can play in this league for a number of years.”
He added: “I got an opportunity to come here on a PTO and there are some spots open on the team. I still believe in my ability to be an impact player on a team and in the league. I want to show that I belong here.”
Chiasson, a right shot, is competing for one of the two open wing spots on Jay Beagle’s line. Others in the mix include: Devante Smith-Pelly, Anthony Peluso and prospects Nathan Walker, Chandler Stephenson, Travis Boyd, Riley Barber and Liam O’Brien.
Chiasson hopes his experience—the 320 games he’s played for the Stars, Senators and Flames are the most among his competitors—as well as his ability to help on the penalty kill will give him an edge. Last season, he skated on the Flames’ third penalty kill pair with Sam Bennett and averaged 55 seconds of shorthanded ice time per game.
The Montreal native also has the ability to slide into a top-six role if injuries strike. And then there’s his size. At 6 foot 3, 205 pounds, he’s as tall as any forward who has a legitimate shot at earning a spot on the opening night roster.
The final roster isn’t due for a few more weeks, and a lot can happen between now and then. But Chiasson seems to have established himself as an early favorite.
“I have a lot of experience in the league,” he said. “I know the players. I know what makes me successful, as well. All I can do is focus on my play and the rest will take care of itself.”