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Surprised by how things ended in Calgary, Chiasson hopes to catch on with the Caps

Surprised by how things ended in Calgary, Chiasson hopes to catch on with the Caps

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.”

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Caps' Barry Trotz forced to change up defense lineups

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USA Today Sports Images

Caps' Barry Trotz forced to change up defense lineups

Lars Eller did not practice on Monday, and coach Barry Trotz shuffled his injury-depleted defense corps.

Here’s how everyone lined up:

Forwards

Burakovsky – Backstrom – Oshie

Ovechkin – Kuznetsov – Vrana

Connolly – Graovac – Wilson

Smith-Pelly – Beagle – Chiasson

Walker

Defense

Orpik – Bowey

Djoos – Carlson

Orlov – Chorney

Ness

Goalies

Holtby

Grubauer

RELATED: Caps destroyed by Flyers in lopsided road loss

Some notes, quotes and observations from KCI:

  • Trotz said Eller showed up sick and was sent home to recover and avoid spreading whatever he’s got. Trotz also isn’t sure whether the veteran center will be able to suit up against Toronto on Tuesday. “I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t answer that right now. We’ll see where his energy level is.”

 

  • The coaching staff shuffled the D-pairs with speedy Toronto coming to town. But Trotz also cautioned not to read too much into the tandems, since they’re likely to change throughout Tuesday’s game. Trotz even hinted that a final decision on which six D-men will suit up had not yet been made. “They’re going to be shuffled from now until we get people back,” Trotz said, referring to the injured Matt Niskanen, who is week-to-week with an upper body injury. “There are pairs for practice. There are pairs for parts of games. It’ll be a little bit situational.”

 

  • If defenseman Taylor Chorney does get back into the lineup, he knows that he needs to make a positive impression after sitting out the last three games as a healthy scratch. “I’ve been through this quite a bit over the last couple of years, but at the same time you probably want to make a little bit of a statement,” he acknowledged. “So for me, if I do get the opportunity to play, it would be a big game.”  

 

  • Speaking of the Leafs, they’re off to a 4-1-0 start with Auston Matthews (5 goals, including two OT winners) leading the way. Overall, Toronto is averaging a league-leading 5.2 goals per game. As you might imagine, Trotz had a lot of praise for last season’s first round opponent in general and Matthews specifically. “If he was playing 20 years ago, we’d be saying he’s Mario Lemieux-like,” Trotz said. “He’s six-foot-[three]. He skates great. He’s got unbelievable hands. And a hockey I.Q. and he’s strong on the puck.”  

 

  • As Washington attempts to turn the page from Saturday’s 8-2 clunker in Philly, Trotz said one area he’d like to see shored up is the number of shots the Caps have been allowing. Through six games, they’re yielding 34.5 shots on goal per game (tied for ninth most). Last year, they allowed 27.8 (fourth best). “We’re not as structured defensively,” Trotz said. “We haven’t put as big an emphasis this year as we did last year. We’ve put a little more emphasis on trying to replace some of the goals that we lost. But right now we have to get a little more balance. …We have to get that back into balance; we practiced some of that today.”

 

  • As you may remember, Madison Bowey’s father, Will, jumped on the first flight out of British Columbia that he could find in the hopes of catching his son’s NHL debut Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center. As it turned out, though, he experienced a couple of travel delays and didn’t make it. Dad will, however, be in attendance Tuesday night.

 

MORE CAPS: Nicklas Backstrom shines among NHL's top stars

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Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom named one of NHL's 3 stars for standout week

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USA Today Sports Images

Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom named one of NHL's 3 stars for standout week

Nicklas Backstrom has been the Capitals’ best player so far this season, according to coach Barry Trotz. And he was recognized for his play on Monday when the NHL named him third star of the week.

No one had more points over the past week than the Caps’ star center, who racked up three goals and six assists in four games.

Trotz praised Backstrom for his point production — and his play on the other side of the puck.   

“He’s been really good,” Trotz said. “Nick has been all business. He’s playing very well. He’s been our best player, no question, with balance in his game. Nick’s balance in his game is really good—on my soap box again—and that’s what makes him one of the best two-way centermen in the National Hockey League. ”

RELATED: Andre Burakovsky's first NHL fight

Last season, Backstrom didn’t get his third goal until the 16th game (en route to a 23-goal campaign). In six games this season, the 29-year-old has three goals and eight helpers.

First star of the week was Winnipeg winger Nikolaj Ehlers (five goals, two assists), while Toronto center Auston Matthews (four goals, including two OT winners) received second star honors.

On Tuesday at Capital One Arena, it’ll be second star versus third star as Matthews and the Leafs take on on Backstrom’s Caps.

MORE CAPS: How the Caps flopped in Philly