EDMONTON – There are 13 pay periods within a season of the National Hockey League. When Alex Chiasson left the plane in Edmonton in September, he was just trying to reach one of them.
He went west on a professional test – a PTO – for the second consecutive year that he had spent the unspeakable and hungry summer of work.
"It's not the position you want to be as a player," said Montrealer, 28, in his second language, just an accent hint after seven seasons of the NHL, a couple of years in the smaller three-year Boston University. "But for me, I've never been allowed to sit in. I've always had to get the job done, and when you get into a PTO, there's no guarantee, you can stay or you can go.
It took some time, but Chiasson won a place here. It looked like his reward would be the one-year deal and $ 650,000 the Oilers gave him.
As it turned out, this was just an appetizer.
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The real reward, when he scored his 14th goal of the season in a 4-1 victory over Philadelphia on Friday night, was a place on the list of top tankers with a pair of NHL top 10 contenders Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
What about these payment periods?
Calculate the average $ 15 million in McDavid winnings this season and it will only take two weeks to record more money than Chiasson will make throughout the season.
"We are very happy for him," McDavid said after burying the Flyers with another three-pointer night, his fourth multi-point game in his last five games. "When you win a Cup, it's a bit surprising that he does not have an agreement. He entered a PTO and worked hard and got a job and has had a great year. I could not be happier for him, he's a fun guy to play with. "
The metaphor for Chiasson's career stems from the fact that he won a Stanley Cup with Washington Capitals last spring and been knocked out by Caps before Alex Ovechkin was sober at the party. So he packaged his things, bought a contract that never came, and came to Edmonton as camp fodder, a dusty veteran trying to steal a job from bright young people like Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto.
Those kids? They pick up all kinds of rope because the organization invested in them.
The Dallas Stars spent a second round at Chiasson once. But that was nine years ago and five organizations ago.
Guys like Chiasson? They earn zero chord.
"It's fair to say," he said. "I've never been able to get close to a team, but I think I learned from it, I grew up with that.
"If you want to score 15 or 20 goals in this league, unless you're a superstar, you need to have different tools in your punctuation toolbox. Whether it's the net, the one-timers … these are things I've worked on over the past two years, maybe I have not been able to use it before, but now … I'm confident. "
Chiasson scored his 14th place with a lovely draw for Draisaitl and now has 46 shots on goal. This is a 30% collection percentage, the best among NHL players with 10 or more goals.
It is, as they say, unsustainable.
But they'd say the same about the Cinderella story that Chiasson has playing alongside McDavid, right?
"He has a way to score and is finding a way to open up," said the tankers captain, his team recently nestled second in the Pacific after his sixth consecutive win at Rogers Place. "He has that fast release so he does not have to stay open for long. Tonight he was open for a second and took the tape off quickly.
The Oilers are now 9-2-2 under Ken Hitchcock while goalkeeper Mikko Koskinen (31 saves) is now 7-0 at Rogers Place.
As for Chiasson, he overcame his career in just 33 games. There are still 49 games left in his season – as at 6-49 – for the guy who won the McDavid lottery in Edmonton.
Is it easy or difficult to play with one of the best players in the world?
"I think both," Chiasson said. "There is nothing easy, but when Connor skates and the quality of the player Leon is, I sometimes look around and there are not many players around me. So that's cool.
"At the same time, there's a lot more you expect from you … with the minutes you're playing."
Keep playing those minutes, scoring goals this way, and you better keep an eye on him. Chiasson can get a three-year contract.
So we asked him: Could he be the same player on a multi-year contract?
"Of course," he replies. "I've had to grind, I've got 400 games the other day, I've won a cup, there's been a lot of ups and downs, it's never going to take away the pride I feel in myself, or the work I do."
Somewhere, Patrick Maroon lets out a sigh.