It feels strange writing an article right now that doesn't include Dion Phaneuf trade talk. Well, I guess this one technically does now.
Of the players late in their current contracts that were traded away to the Toronto Maple Leafs yesterday, Alex Chiasson was not one. The 25-year-old remains an Ottawa Senator and with 28 games left in the season, the clock is ticking down to judgement day.
If the consensus on Chiasson's inaugural year with the Senators was that it was a bit of a disappointment, then his current campaign is a whole new washout.
When the Montréal native came over from the Dallas Stars in the Jason Spezza trade, fans and management were set on Chiasson moulding into a possible top-six forward, and almost definitely a top-nine player that could add a scoring touch to the bottom six.
That was a bit overzealous.
Everyone was sold on Chiasson for two reasons. For one, he'd had two impressive stints with the Stars, scoring 19 goals in 86 games. But it was also the fact that the nation's capital had just lost one of the most talented players in franchise history, and a lot of people wanted to be reassured that the team was still moving forward.
So, we grasped at a few straws and everybody came out a bit too confident.
And now, Chiasson has taken yet another step back. After a mediocre first season, this year he has three goals in 49 games. He's also tied with Mark Borowiecki for even strength goals with one.
Even after being a healthy scratch numerous times, there's little-to-no sign of improvement in his game. With a team-worst -7.33 Corsi relative, he brings down any line he plays on.
The only spot he seems to fit in on this team is either third line or scratch. With Chris Neil having a rather serviceable season on the fourth line, the only right wing position for Chiasson to fill is alongside Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
After earning $1.2 million in arbitration last July, it would be extremely difficult to argue Chiasson deserves a raise of any kind. If not for the pride the Senators likely hold with their return in the Spezza trade, it'd be an easy task to part ways with a player whose job is to add a bit of offense but has seven points two thirds into the season.
I think you'd be hard pressed to claim that a trade of any sort including Chiasson would hurt Ottawa. But if they don't make a move and head to arbitration in the summer, it's not the worst possible outcome if next season Chiasson is a run-of-the-mill depth player. Not a great depth player, but if you move some pieces around, maybe he fits in well on next year's fourth line.
If a trade isn't an option and they don't want to sign him, though, the Senators can always simply refuse to extend a qualifying offer and walk away. Chiasson would become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.