Forward Alex Chiasson took his seat at his stall in the Washington Capitals’ dressing room and announced that he officially belonged. Chiasson has been with the Capitals since the start of training camp on a professional tryout agreement, but on Wednesday morning, he signed a one-year, one-way $660,000 contract with the team. He is expected to make his Washington debut in the season-opener at Ottawa on Thursday.
The deal is a satisfying ending to a long summer for Chiasson. The 27-year-old didn’t receive a qualifying offer from the Calgary Flames after he scored 12 goals last season. As an unrestricted free agent, the contract offers didn’t come. When the Capitals contacted him about auditioning for a contract at training camp, he thought there might be enough openings in their lineup. This is Chiasson’s sixth year in the NHL, and he’s on his fourth team.
“I’ll be the first one to say that it was a little bit of a long summer regarding that stuff, but I like my opportunity here,” Chiasson said. “For me this summer, obviously with what was going on, I still would train and prepare for the season. Maybe more of a chip on my shoulder, if I want to say that. I came into camp in good shape, and it’s been a great camp. I got to know the guys a little bit, and I’m really excited to earn a spot on the team here.”
The Capitals reassigned defenseman Madison Bowey on Tuesday and then waived forward Chandler Stephenson on Wednesday to clear the roster and salary cap room for Chiasson. With forward Tom Wilson suspended for the first four games of the season, Chiasson will start the year on the right wing of the third line with center Lars Eller. Coach Barry Trotz said Chiasson could play “throughout” the lineup once Wilson returns from his suspension. Chiasson joked that he played with every forward on the team during the preseason, and the Capitals also had him killing penalties in exhibitions.
“He had a pretty decent year last year,” Trotz said. “His goal is to have another good year so he can stand up and say, ‘Listen, I put up back-to-back years.’ It’ll be on his former team that, ‘Maybe you should have kept me.’ ”
Said Chiasson: “In my situation that I’ve been in the last couple of years, changing teams and all that, it gets to a point where as a player, you want to prove that you belong. But I’ve learned from the past and I understand the league now and I know what it takes to be successful and it’s the same for me. I think the biggest thing is I need a little more consistency in my game throughout the season. Some of that stuff is in my control, so I’ve got to prove that I can play and produce.”
More on the Capitals: