Alex Chiasson is going to play under a microscope this season. That's what happens when you're the key piece in a trade that involves a franchise player.
The 23-year-old right wing was acquired by the Ottawa Senators from the Dallas Stars on Tuesday morning in the trade that sent Ottawa captain Jason Spezza to Dallas. Spezza was the No. 2 selection at the 2001 NHL Draft and replaced Daniel Alfredsson as Senators captain when the latter left to sign with the Detroit Red Wings last summer.
Right Wing - OTT
GOALS: 13 | ASST: 22 | PTS: 35
SOG: 144 | +/-: -21
"I kind of sat down [Tuesday] and thought about that; it's pretty neat when a team goes and trades a big name and a big player like [Spezza] is to a different team and they're looking for you," Chiasson said Wednesday, according to the Senators website. "It definitely means a lot. As for pressure, I'm not too worried about that. It's part of the game regardless of what team you're on. I know what kind of player I am and I'm going to be the same player and try to bring it to Ottawa. That's really my mindset."
Ottawa also acquired left wing Nicholas Paul, left wing Alexander Guptill and a second-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, with right wing Ludwig Karlsson also going to Dallas.
"Obviously I was a little shocked. I didn't really expect [the trade] coming," Chiasson said. "I think after a little while it sets in and you realize you're going to play for a Canadian team, and obviously being from Quebec we all know how much hockey means here. I'm really excited for this new opportunity that's coming to me. It's definitely a new challenge and I'm really looking forward to the new experience and it should be a fun year coming ahead."
Spezza had 687 points (251 goals, 436 assists) in 686 games with the Senators. Chiasson, who had 13 goals and 22 assists in his rookie season with the Stars, said he will do his best to try not to think about the pressure some may put on him to replace Spezza's offense.
"Talking to [Senators general manager] Bryan Murray [on Tuesday] it looks like I have a good chance to step in and, like I said, I think the opportunity is there for me, but at the same time I've never taken anything for granted," Chiasson said. "I think I've always worked for the things I've gotten so far. It's really exciting."
Chiasson, the 38th pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, scored three goals in three games at the start of last season and finished October with five goals. But he went 19 games without a goal from Dec. 5-Jan. 16 and had another 12-game drought after scoring once in January. He knows he will have to be more consistent in his second NHL season.
"I got a bad food bug around Christmas and lost about 10-15 pounds, so with the schedule last year, with all the games, we had a lot of back-to-backs, a lot of traveling, and it was hard for me to put the weight back on," said Chiasson, who is listed at 205 pounds. "I think also it was my first year in the NHL and there was a lot of learning and things I didn't know. But I learned a lot last year, I was around some really good people, some really good guys in Dallas, and I think with that experience I gained it'll definitely help me in the future."
As a Montreal native, Chiasson is fully aware of the attention he will receive on a daily basis playing for the Senators.
"It should be different. I can only imagine, being from Quebec, how much hockey means to the people here," Chiasson said. "It's definitely going to be a big change for me coming from Dallas where there's about two or three reporters every day to being a totally different virtue every day in Ottawa. I think it's going to be a bit of a learning experience at first just to get used to the new setup and new everything for me, but I've been away from home for a little bit. I think I'll be fine, it comes with the job of being from Quebec and being French and to be a professional athlete and to play in a Canadian city. It's all part of the job."