This just in, news that the Edmonton Oilers have placed forward Alex Chiasson on waivers.
1. Rest assured the Edmonton Oilers don’t want to lose Chiasson on waivers. He’s a useful depth forward who does great work on the power play as the net front screener. Indeed, in Edmonton’s 8-5 win over the Ottawa Senators, his strong screens were major contributors to two of Edmonton’s power play goals.
2. Chiasson is also defensively responsible. In limited even strength minutes this year he’s not made even one major mistake on a Grade A against. He back checks hard, he’s strong on the boards on in his own zone, able to protect the puck and advance it, and he generally recognizes which player is his to cover. In other words, he’s an ideal fourth line forward when it comes to defensive play.
3. Why waive him then? It’s a calculated risk. I’m just speculating here, but my best guess is that Edmonton is betting that no other team will want to take on the final year of his $2.1 million per contract. And Edmonton is also worried that if it waives less expensive players like William Lagesson and Slater Koekkoek, they’ll get picked up on waivers by some team desperate for defence. Lagesson makes just $725,000 this year, Koekkoek $850,000. At the same time, Kris Russell can’t be waived because of his No-Movement clause, even as he would almost certainly not be picked up by another team, given his $4 million cap hit. The Oilers could also waive James Neal, who would not be picked up given his major contract, and that may well happen yet. Kyle Turris is another candidate, given his weak two-way play to date and his two year deal at $1.65 million per. In fact, I would have preferred if Oilers had waived Turris just now and not Chiasson. I doubt any team would have taken Turris and I’m now seen enough to think the Oilers will be Ok without Turris at centre, given the play of Gaetan Haas and Devin Shore, along with having Cooper Marody and Ryan McLeod on the farm.
4. Having already lost Anton Forsberg on waivers, the Oilers are now likely in a position where they will have to keep three goalies on their 23-man active roster the rest of the year, as it’s possible that incoming depth goalie Troy Grosenick would clear waivers. Edmonton will now face a tricky juggling act in order to ensure it’s always got three goalies on hand, given the health concerns around Mike Smith, who is on Long Term Injured Reserve.
5. If Chiasson clears waivers, this will give the Oilers more flexibility to move him back and forth onto the taxi squad. He can be in the line-up for Tuesday’s game against Ottawa. In fact, that’s what I expect to see.