Red Wings’ Chiasson Earning Opportunity to Stay in Detroit

The Hockey Writers

On Nov. 26, 2022, veteran NHL forward Alex Chiasson signed a one-year deal with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League (AHL). The move flew a bit under the radar due, in part, to the Detroit Red Wings’ Thanksgiving playoff positioning as well as the general focus on the younger faces that filled out the Griffins’ roster. Still, it’s not everyday that an AHL team is able to add a player with over 600 games of NHL experience to their roster.

And wouldn’t you know it: Chiasson made his presence felt almost immediately.

In his first game with the Griffins, he assisted on two goals in a win against the Iowa Wild. The following game, he had a goal and an assist as the Griffins defeated the Springfield Thunderbirds 2-1 in overtime. Through his first five games with Grand Rapids, he tallied four goals and seven points. Fast forward to today, and his points per-game rate of .69 ranks him fourth among players to play at least 25 games with the Griffins this season.

So then when March 3 came around and the Red Wings were putting the finishing touches on a trade deadline that saw them move four players off of their roster, it was perhaps a little surprising when they announced that they had signed Chiasson to an NHL deal for the remainder of the season. For anyone that hadn’t paid close attention to the Griffins this season, it sure seemed like the Red Wings essentially produced an NHL veteran out of thin air to help plug a hole in their lineup.

Alex Chiasson Detroit Red Wings
Alex Chiasson, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Since the beginning of March, only Dylan Larkin has scored as many goals for the Red Wings as Chiasson has (five). Chiasson also finds himself tied for the third-most points in that same timeframe. Perhaps even more surprising is that four of his five goals have come on the power play, and the fifth one came while the Red Wings had their goaltender pulled (i.e. while they had a man advantage).

Due to his surprising production and the overall gratitude he has shown this season, Chiasson may be earning the opportunity to sign another NHL deal, this time well before the next trade deadline.

Chiasson Remained Humble throughout This Season

The points are nice and that’s what ultimately puts food on the table for forwards like Chiasson, but his attitude this season has surely won over many, from the decision-makers in the Red Wings’ front office down to singular fans across Hockeytown. When he made his debut for the Red Wings on March 4, he was a little emotional when thinking about his journey this season when talking with Bally Sports Detroit’s Trevor Thompson.

The Red Wings, for their part, continue to rebuild. Their locker room was dramatically altered when long-time players Filip Hronek and Tyler Bertuzzi were traded ahead of the trade deadline – a fact that we saw effect the team when they put forth lifeless efforts in their first two games after the deadline.

But this is the NHL; it is unforgiving to anyone and any team that feels sorry for themselves but won’t put in the effort to improve the situation.

Related: 4 Red Wings Who Won’t Be Back Next Season

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“The NHL is an every day league,” Chiasson told reporters after his first week with the Griffins. “I have no regrets. Obviously my goal is to get back up in the NHL….”

On March 8, Chiasson assisted on two goals as the Red Wings snapped out of their post-deadline funk and defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3. Those were his first points in the NHL in almost a year – his last point was a goal scored on April 28 of last year. Then he scored a goal in each of the Red Wings’ next three games, including two against Bertuzzi and the Boston Bruins.

The season may not have started the way Chiasson would have wanted it to, but by mid-March, he was doing all the right things for the Red Wings.

Red Wings Need Size & Skill

Aside from Bertuzzi and Hronek, the biggest subtractions from the Red Wings’ lineup have been Michael Rasmussen and Oskar Sundqvist. Both players are big, rangy forwards that can contribute at both ends of the ice due, in part, to their size advantage. Sundqvist spent plenty of time on the Red Wings’ power play where he was consistently planted in front of or near the goaltender to cash in on rebounds and other opportunities around the crease.

At 6-foot-4, 208 pounds, Chiasson is an inch taller and 10 pounds lighter than Sundqvist. Both players are right-handed. Through 52 games with the Red Wings this season, Sundqvist had two power play goals. Through 11 games, Chiasson has four power play markers this season. You can make the argument that the Red Wings found a cheaper and better-performing alternative to Sundqvist while also collecting a draft asset (a ’23 fourth round pick) in return for him.

But therein lies the problem. As much as Chiasson has been a plus for the Red Wings, especially on the power play, consider that the Red Wings may also have players that could be an upgrade over him.

Rasmussen was one of the team’s better forwards this season before he suffered a season-ending injury in late February. His 6-foot-6 frame would be good to have on the power play next season, especially in that area around the crease. Also in the system is Elmer Söderblom, the 6-foot-8, 246-pound behemoth that began this season in Detroit before eventually being assigned to Grand Rapids. His mobility and size could be a fit on the Red Wings’ power play next season as well.

Chiasson is a veteran with over a decade spent in the NHL. He brings intangibles and experience that a young team can always use more of, and management and the coaching staff know exactly what he’ll bring to the table on any given night. But if the Red Wings are going to continue to move their rebuild in the right direction, they will eventually need to replace the Chiassons of the world with long-term, high-upside options from within their system. That’s why, if the Red Wings do extend him an offer to stay beyond this season, it will almost certainly be a one-year extension.

Regardless, Chiasson Is a Good Story

Let’s face it: those first few days after the trade deadline were hard to swallow – not just for the players on the ice, but for the fans and media alike that were riding the wave of excitement as the Red Wings found themselves in the thick of the playoff race just a week out from the deadline. As those days go by and you start looking ahead, you look for stories to latch on to as games become more about draft positioning than playoff seeding.

While there are a handful of stories or more to choose from when it comes to the final days of the Red Wings’ season, perhaps the most unexpected one is the veteran that seemingly comes out of nowhere to win over fans and his teammates through hard work and simple but effective hockey.

This team could learn something from a story like that. Heck, we all can.

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