EDMONTON, AB - The evolution of forward Alex Chiasson from a Professional Tryout (PTO) to a first-time 20-goal scorer in the NHL with the Oilers was a story both inside and outside the dressing room this season.
From the onset of training camp, the Montreal, Quebec product's influence on the club from winning a Stanley Cup the year prior with the Washington Capitals was felt through a silent, but impactful, leadership in the dressing room and on the ice.
"Chiasser coming off a cup, he was huge for us," his teammate Darnell Nurse said. "Not only was he good on the ice, but he was a leader. Someone who showed up to the rink every day, wanted the best out of everyone, and you could see through his experience last year winning that cup that he brought a lot to the team."
After recording nine goals and 18 points in 61 games with the cup-winning Capitals last campaign, Chiasson elevated his goal-scoring ability in a big way by tallying 22 goals and 16 assists in 73 games with the Oilers - a new career high in both goals and points.
Video: RAW | Chiasson 04.07.19
"He's a very confident player, very confident guy, and he was a huge difference maker for us," Nurse continued. "That confidence helped him have his best year so far."
Having consistency this season in being called upon to be a leader offensively, and potential future continuity as an Oiler after bouncing around the Dallas Stars, Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames, the Capitals, and the Oilers over the past seven seasons, is a big draw for the 28-year-old heading into this off-season.
"I think I've made it pretty clear with you guys, with management, that I'd like to come back," Chiasson, speaking to the media in his exit interview on Sunday, said. "Obviously with the season I had this year, I think it's fair to say that when a player is put in a position to be successful, you want more of that in your career. Obviously that has a lot of value to me.
"Winning is the best feeling in this league, and that's one of the reasons I want to come back. Last year I was more of a supporting cast, and I want to be a part of that core group here that gets it done."
The push for playoffs begins with the opening skate at training camp in September, and Chiasson believes the Oilers will need to shake off their shortcomings in the summer before showing up ready to work at the drop of the first puck to ease pressure in the long run.
"When you have this long of a summer, players have to come into training camp hungry and we can't wait for the last six, seven weeks of the season to win games," Chiasson said. "This league is too competitive. We have to start training camp the right way. The games in October and November are just as important as the ones in February because those are the points that give you a little bit of space to breathe."