Alex Chiasson hopes to stick with Bruins

Alex Chiasson may not be the most coveted player in the National Hockey League, but he tends to grow on teams when given the chance.

Chiasson, 32, recently signed a professional tryout contract with the Bruins, making it the fifth time in the last seven years the former Boston University Terrier entered an NHL training camp without a contract. But in the previous four times he started a camp on a PTO, he has wound up being on an NHL roster by the end of the season.

It’s not an easy way to make a living. Chiasson has another way to describe the PTO process.

“It sucks,” said the 6-foot-4, 208 pound right wing with a wry smile. “It’s tough… But I have a good support system at home. My wife’s been great. But it doesn’t get any easier. I think as I’ve gotten older, I realize that it’s a privilege to play in the NHL. You can’t take this for granted. I know one day when I’m done playing, whenever that is, that I’ve really put it all out there. I have no regrets. I could have taken the easy way out. Whatever opportunity comes my way, I always fought for what I believed in and that was to play in the NHL. I’ve played (651) games, I’ve won a Cup, I’ve played with some of the best to have ever played the game. This game has given me so much. I’m going to try to keep it going, try to squeeze a little bit more out of it. I’m excited for this opportunity in camp.”

Drafted by the Dallas Stars 38th overall in 2009, Chiasson spent two years with the Stars, two with the Ottawa Senators and then a season in Calgary.

Then his PTO odyssey began in 2017. That season, Chiasson earned a one-year contract with Washington for the 2017-18 and won a Stanley Cup with the Capitals. Washington did not re-sign him, so he went to Edmonton on a PTO and eventually got signed there. He had the best season of his career in his first Edmonton season, scoring 22 goals, good enough to earn him a two-year extension.

When that deal was done, he earned a contract off a PTO with the Vancouver Canucks for the 2021-22 season. Last season, he had to take a more circuitous route back to the NHL. He signed a PTO with the Arizona Coyotes but did not earn a deal. After a couple of months, he signed an AHL contract with the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Detroit Red Wings’ minor league affiliate. But by season’s end, he was on the varsity, getting 20 games with the Wings, which piqued the interest the B’s enough for them to give him a PTO and add him to their sprawling bottom six competition.

He said Shawn Horcoff, a former teammate in Dallas, was the GM in Grand Rapids and convinced him to take the minor league deal.

“I told him my goal was to get back to the NHL. He explained to me that I had to get playing,” said the Quebec native. “Detroit took really good care of me. I played in the American league for 25 games, I put my pride away, earned my keep and, at the deadline, they called me up. I thought mentally I was like ‘Is this my last chance to play?’ I want to soak this in. Just with the DNA of who I am as a person, I think I realized, ‘Hey, let’s try to make this work.’ A couple of injuries later, I was playing on the first power play. I thought that potentially changed the outcome in the summer, but at the summer time I think it proved that to me I can still play. I’ve proven that over and over again with different teams. Like I said, I’m willing to bet on myself and see how camp goes.”

With the lack of liquidity in the marketplace, it was a tough summer for a lot of free agents, with many signing for a lot less than they expected to. Chiasson had some two-way offers but decided to go the PTO route.

“It’s frustrating, but at the same time… for me, I take pride in what I do and how I do it,” said Chiasson. “But then when you get rewarded and you go and play well, I think it makes it all worth it. One day when it’s done, I can say I gave it all I’ve got. I could have gone overseas. I could have gone anywhere. But I kept building on my career, kept adding games. Over the last three, four, five years, I’ve created a role for myself and I hope it works out here.”

And if it does work out with the Bruins, it would bring a certain symmetry to his career after spending three seasons on Comm Ave. It would also makes things more convenient for him.

“Throughout my career there’s been a bunch of rumors of me getting traded here and whatnot, but we’ve actually moved back to Boston. We’ve been here all summer. I’d say that’s a big benefit. I’m not flying anywhere now or living in a hotel. We’re home. That helps,” said Chiasson. “But it’s kind of like full circle. I got drafted in ’09, played three years at BU. Obviously the school means a lot to me. I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older how much it’s helped me throughout my career. I was around when the Bruins won back then (in 2011). I know what sports mean to this city. Boston is probably comparable to a Canadian market with the media and the quality of the sports teams that this city has. It’s a special place to play. I’ve always enjoyed playing at the Garden. It’s one of top places to play.”

Now he just has to make room for himself on the roster. History shows it would be unwise to bet against Chiasson doing just that.

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