I talked with Brendon Worley (@brandonworley) of Defending Big D about Jason Spezza and the return package Ottawa received for its former captain. You'll find our discussion of Alex Chiasson, Nick Paul, and Alex Guptill below.
Were you at all concerned about Chiasson's possession numbers last season?
It's tough to really gauge Chiasson's season overall because of his mysterious weight loss a few months into the year. However, even when Chiasson was putting up the points his possession was never that positive, mostly because of bad decisions and overall poor play in his defensive zone. Chiasson will attempt some interesting and ill-advised passes at times but at the same time -- I was always a fan of his boldness and creativity. It wasn't conducive to good possession numbers, however.
What is reasonable to expect from Alex Guptill and Nick Paul with respect to their NHL potential?
Guptill is an unknown. He has all of the tools; he's a good power forward who can dig the puck off the net and has good creativity and drive when crashing the net. What Guptill has struggled with is the intangibles involved with being a successful hockey player, and has had trouble with maturity issues in the past while with Michigan. He didn't play much at the tail end of the season in Texas, and this next season is going to be integral to his development and overall potential. He'll need at least one full season in the AHL before he's ready to make the jump, however it will be interesting to see how Ottawa treats his development.
Nick Paul is a very interesting prospect who seemingly came out of nowhere last season in the juniors. Drafted in the fourth round, I know the Stars were really high on him and were very reluctant to give him up in any trade. I think of all the players that were traded, Paul could end up with the highest NHL potential -- a gritty, good-sized power forward with good skill and some good speed.
Which player was hardest to lose on July 1st? 10 years down the road who will it be?
Nick Paul or Alex Chiasson.
Chiasson had a strong 2012-2013 season and start to the 2013-2014 season. Was there evidence of progress in his game throughout the season?
Yes, especially once he started to regain his lost weight and strength. He was very good at times in the postseason and the aforementioned mistakes were limited more and more. The problem was that Chiasson was bounced up and down the lineup and some games would be on the fourth line and some games would be playing with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. He's a legit top-six forward with great size and who is very adept around the net, and has the potential to score 20+ goals easily this coming season.
In what areas does Chiasson need to improve his game to become a bonafide top 6 player?
Defensively, he needs to learn positioning and better decision making when the puck in on his stick.
How did injuries impact Chiasson's season? Should this be a concern going forward?
Chiasson had some sort of illness that made him lose a ton of weight mid-season and contributed to his lack of production and effectiveness. He has apparently gained this weight back and is stronger than ever, I don't think it should be an issue moving forward.
Why did Chiasson lose his "untouchable" status?
don't believe Chiasson ever was "untouchable" in the sense that he was seen as a cornerstone of the franchise. He had a decent rookie season and showed himself capable of being a top-six NHL forward, but there were concerns about his ultimate ceiling and potential and whether he had much more room to actually develop.