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NHL Trade Deadline: Alex Chiasson rumors are one item the Penguins should avoid

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Pittsburgh should just say no to Edmonton’s Alex Chiasson.

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Are the Pittsburgh Penguins interested in adding rental winger Alex Chiasson from the Edmonton Oilers? The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reported so on Thursday:

[Rutherford]’s in listening mode and might tweak here and there before Monday. One player that would make sense for Pittsburgh? Alex Chiasson, who has had a nice year on a struggling Edmonton team and is UFA on July 1. He’s got a cheap $650,000 cap hit which is why I know he’s on the Penguins radar.

The Oilers, according to a source, if/when they decide to shop him, will seek a second-round pick or a good prospect for Chiasson. Sounds like a Sunday/Monday decision on him from the Oilers brass.

On the surface, it doesn’t sound so bad. Chiasson has 17 goals and 27 points for the dreadful Oilers, that’s pretty impressive. He’s only 28 years old, has championship experience from last year (though he only scored two playoff points in 16 games in a fourth line/healthy scratch role but, whatever). At 6’4, 210 pounds he’ll definitely add some size to a playoff team.

All of that is true and modestly intriguing as a possible trade rental addition for a playoff team.

But this, too is this also something that can’t be ignored:

Chiasson’s career-high single-season mark of 17 goals comes with an aberration of a career-high 20.7% shooting percentage. (Even though, to his credit, Chiasson does have a history of good shooting years...But he also has 76 career goals in 431 games and usually scores 8-12 goals a season, so keep context).

This great shooting will come back to earth. Hell, it already is in the process of doing so - Chiasson hasn’t scored a goal in 17 games dating back to January 8th. He’s not a player to rely on for creating a lot of offense. The Penguins can’t be fooled by this when it comes to negotiations.

Giving up any of those prospects would be absurd for a player in Chiasson who is a fourth liner at best. Even then, whether it’s Teddy Blueger, Zach Aston-Reese, Dominik Simon, Tanner Pearson - you name it - Pittsburgh already has a comparable or better player for a fourth line winger role without having to spend any further limited trade assets. Play Garrett Wilson every game and you’ll get similar results, for cryin’ out loud.

If Pittsburgh is truly going to give up a high draft pick or one of the few promising prospects they have, it should be for a top-six caliber player with a history of success. Such is reportedly the asking price for New York’s Mats Zuccarello. Bring in that type of player with 50-60+ point consistent resumes and, yeah, a steep price is justified. This is totally not the case with Chiasson who has long been a career-fourth liner that just caught lightning in a bottle in the early months of the season.

(Data via Bill Comeau’s viz)

Like the old investing saying goes, “don’t try to catch a falling knife” and that also applies to hockey players. Chiasson is not particularly great, and on the decline anyways this season with his goals drying up in the past six weeks. He shouldn’t be over-valued due to an early season red-hot streak that he won’t be bringing with him over in a trade.

If the Pens just had to add Chiasson, his value should be comparable to a late draft pick. Talking fifth, sixth or seventh rounder. Anything higher is a foolish acquisition and over-valuing a bad bet. There’s lot of trade rumors flying around so it’s not like anything is imminent, but whispers of the Pens interest in Chiasson could be troubling if they have the wrong impression and valuation.