Once again it's that time of year here on Defending Big D where we take a look at each player that suited up for 20 or more games this season (and finished the season with the team) - and take a look back at their season. What was good about it, what wasn't so good, and the lasting impression they left us as we go into summer.
Key Stat: 79 games played
I know this is an odd thing to put in the key stat category, but with Alex Chiasson it warrants attention. While he cooled off significantly after his career-starting goals outburst, this season was Chiasson's first full one in the NHL so it offers some perspective on that inconsistency.
Alex Chiasson burst out of the gates in his NHL career and scored goals in bunches for the first couple of weeks of the season. He finished the season with 35 points which was disappointing to many after his start, but is still a very solid point total for a rookie. Only true world class rookies can maintain the pace he started with.
You could also make the argument that Chiasson deserved a lot more points. He was always around the net and generated multiple scoring chances every game with the exception of a mid-season swoon when he was affected by the flu. He became a fixture on the powe rplay and was routinely used as the net front man and he did a lot of good work there. It makes sense to assume that, if he maintains the same style of play in the future, the points will start to come at a better rate.
Chiasson needs a lot of work in the defensive zone. Especially early on, the lines he was put on were routinely torched in their own zone. Yes, it's a supremely flawed stat, but with a number as bad as minus-29, plus/minus is an indication of his struggles on defense. If he wants to become a regular in the top-six, he's going to need to shore up that defensive game so that he can take on less sheltered minutes and be expected to contribute no matter where he is on the ice.
On top of that, you can take part of the good that I just wrote about and turn it into some of the bad. With the amount of chances he got to play in the top six and on the power play, you'd like a little more production, especially down the stretch. This, however, should even out over time as he gets more used to NHL goalies and defenses. If he's still at 35 points per year in two or three years it will be a problem, but it isn't quite yet.
Alex Chiasson is a very good young NHL player. He has to improve in a few areas, but that's to be expected with a rookie. He showed flashes of good finishing ability and some great passing skills once he got out of his shell a bit. If he works on his defensive play and keeps putting pucks on net he will become a good top six player. Before you vote, I would remind you of the Reilly Smith example. Smith had a somewhat disappointing rookie year with the Stars. He had a lot of scoring opportunities but just couldn't finish. He finished this year with 20 goals and 51 points, so he's a good example of good rookie just needing more time and reps at the NHL level to start scoring at a better clip. There's a very good chance Chiasson will trend in that direction as well.
Vote now: Rate Chiasson on a scale of A to F based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season.