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2015 RFA: Alex Chiasson

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This week at Silver Seven, we'll be taking a look at Ottawa's upcoming RFA class. Beginning with Alex Chiasson, each day we'll be examining one of Ottawa's RFAs and asking how the team should proceed with each player.

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With contract talk heating up around the league, the Silver Seven staff thought it was time to look at Ottawa's RFAs.

Chiasson was the most recognizable name in the return package Ottawa received for former captain Jason Spezza this past summer. This recognition was because of the blistering start to his NHL career - Chiasson netted six goals in seven games (his first in the NHL) in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. He started the 2013-14 season hot as well, and finished the first full season of his NHL career with 13 goals, 22 assists, and 35 points in 79 games. Slowed by illness last season, Chiasson is on a similar pace this season, albeit with slightly less assists and points (he currently has seven goals, eight assists, and 15 points in 38 games). However, he's been held without a point for 10 straight games.

He's been tried in various top-six roles this season and lately has been on the first line with Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur, presumably in attempt to get Chiasson going. His possession numbers aren't great, but he's carved out a bit of a specialty role on the powerplay: at 6'4" he's a big body in front of the net who's adept at screening the goalie and tipping the puck. Three of his seven goals have come on the powerplay and he averages 2:37 PP TOI/G. However, Chiasson will be 25 at the start of the 2015-16 season and it's important to understand what you're getting with him before committing to a new deal.

Chiasson is currently making $900,000 on the last year of his ELC. At less than one million, he's providing pretty good value currently. However, barring disaster, players almost always get raises. It would be a mistake to look at his production in Dallas and Ottawa so far and offer a mid or long term deal.

Chiasson should be re-signed because he's a controllable asset that, with the right deal, can provide value. But what should the dollars and term be?

I looked at the 2014 RFA class of players coming off their ELC to get a better sense of the dollars Chiasson might command. I looked at players with relatively similar amounts of NHL experience at the end of their ELCs as Chiasson presumably will have at the end of this season (approximately 100-150 NHL games). In addition, I tried to find forwards with similar point production to Chiasson.

PLAYER DOB GOALS/G PPG SALARY (14-15) TERM
Joe Colborne C 1990 0.12 0.27 $1,275,000 2 YRS/$2,550,000
Matt Frattin RW 1988 0.13 0.27 $800,000 2 YRS/$1,600,000
Zack Kassian RW 1991 0.15 0.31 $1,750,000 2 YRS/$3,500,000
Nino Niederreiter RW 1992 0.16 0.32 $2,666,666.67 3 YRS/$8,000,000
Marcus Foligno LW 1991 0.14 0.36 $1,875,000 2 YRS/$3,750,000
Jakob Silfverberg LW 1990 0.17 0.41 $850,000 1 YR/$850,000
Tommy Wingels C 1988 0.17 0.42 $2,475,000 3 YRS/$7,425,000
Cody Eakin C 1991 0.17 0.43 $1,900,000 2 YRS/$3,800,000
Chris Kreider C 1991 0.21 0.48 $2,475,000 2 YRS/$4,950,000

If we look at Chiasson's career point production, only Krieder has produced at a higher rate than him (0.46/PPG in 124 games for Chiasson). However, Chiasson's career points-per-game is skewed by his hot start in Dallas in 2013. When we look at just his time in Ottawa, he's more middle of the pack and falls between Foligno and Silfverberg (0.39 PPG in 38 games with the Senators for Chiasson).

So where does that leave Chiasson? If the Sens can inked him to a deal for about $1,500,000 per season (2 years/$3,000,000) it will be a fairly reasonable deal (that Silfverberg deal is pretty favourable for the Ducks). In fact, if the Sens part ways with Colin Greening and/or Milan Michalek (trade, buyout etc), paying Chiasson around the $1.5M mark to be a third line winger and powerplay specialist is fine.

I understand why the Wild gave Niederreiter the deal they did (he's at 0.46/PPG in 121 games with Minnesota), but that kind of 3-year+ deal should absolutely be avoided by the Senators. That's the type of deal the Senators gave Colin Greening with disastrous results. Unless Chiasson's play dramatically improves in the second half of the season, paying him north of $1.75M or for longer than two seasons would be a mistake. Chiasson has shown little to suggest a long term, four or five year deal with a mid-range salary ($2.5M-$3.5M), makes any sense for the Senators.