There’s audition season and reminder season.
Audition season is when National Hockey League playoffs become a pipe dream and a double-digit points deficit leads to longer looks at those who could help or hinder the club the following season.
That’s what the Vancouver Canucks faced in their shortened 2020-21 slog, a sour season of survival in which they placed last in the all-Canadian division.
Reminder season is for those who have the book of work but are on the back nine of their careers. And whether through injury or indifferent play, they can play a bigger role down the stretch as a reminder of present and off-season value on the open market.
Which brings us to Alex Chiasson.
The Canucks’ winger is having a resurgence amid injuries to Brock Boeser and Tanner Pearson with five points (3-2) in his last two games and four goals in his last five. He had 13 points (7-6) in his previous 58 outings and the surge is patience and preparation meeting opportunity.
It’s also a great example for younger roster players and a reminder to those seeking a veteran, low-maintenance presence next season.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Vancouver Canucks
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Chiasson was regarded here as a bottom-six fixture and occasional net-front presence on the power play. But the 31-year-old Montreal native is making the most of his third career professional tryout that turned into a one-year, US $750,000 commitment.
“It feels good at this time of the year to feel good about your game and a nice opportunity to showcase what I can do,” Chiasson said Saturday after a goal, an assist and seven shots in a 4-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. “It’s the story of my career — I’ve found a way to stay resilient and believe in myself.”
Chiasson scored 42 goals for the Oilers the previous three seasons and 16 came on the power play because he’s hard to block out and adept at screening goalies. He had 22 goals in 2018-19 and was part of the Edmonton leadership group. That’s what happens when you win a Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals.
On Monday, those in Chiasson’s corner applauded his appetite to contribute and prolong his career.
“I admire his game,” said JT Miller, who centered Chiasson and Vasily Podkolzin in practice. “He plays a very old-school style and his habits are really good. He has good routes all over the ice and knows where to be because he’s so smart.”
Bruce Boudreau also tossed bouquets to Chiasson.
“I’m certainly very happy for him,” said the Canucks’ coach. “When you’re a Cup champion you know what it takes to win. He’s got his opportunity from him and he’s not 21. He has seen it and he knows it’s his chance from him and he’s taking full advantage of it.
“You appreciate a veteran guy who’s big and strong and having success. There were four games (February) where I sat him out and he never sulked or complained.”
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