Jake Chiasson has had some terrible luck over the past couple of years.
A top pick in the WHL’s Bantam Draft, Chiasson’s pre-NHL draft season with the Brandon Wheat Kings was limited to just 23 games due to COVID-19. The Oilers selected him in the fourth round and he wound up getting injured at their Development Camp in September. That injury resulted in Chiasson playing just 20 regular-season games and six playoff games in 2021-22.
Chiasson is headed into his final WHL season still a very raw prospect. He has the size and skill of somebody who projects to be a quality NHL contributor one day, but Chiasson badly needs to have an uninterrupted season in 2022-23 in order to get back on track.
Position: Center / Right Wing
Date of Birth: May 25, 2003
Drafted: 2021, No. 116 overall
Height: 6’2″ / 188 cm
Weight: 181 lbs / 82 kg
Born in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Chiasson came up through Kelowna’s Yale Hockey Academy and was selected by the Brandon Wheat Kings with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft.
Chiasson scored five goals and 15 assists in his first season in the WHL in 2019-20. The following season, Chiasson took on a larger role on the Wheat Kings and saw his production rise to nine goals and 20 points over 23 games. That isn’t much of a sample size as the season was shortened due to the pandemic, but for reference, Chiasson was tied for seventh in the WHL in terms of points for U18 skaters.
The Oilers wound up taking Chiasson in the fourth round of the 2021 NHL Draft. Interestingly enough, this was the first time that the Oilers had selected a player from the WHL since 2017 when they took Kailer Yamamoto and Stuart Skinner in the first and third round respectively.
Chiasson is described as a player who fits best in a complementary role. He has a big frame, passes well and can create plays, and he isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas of the ice. The comparable that immediately comes to mind for me is Zach Hyman.
“Chiasson isn’t a shoot-first winger and has some creativity and a strong passing game,” said FC Hockey ahead of the draft. “But he’s also useful off the puck by jamming the net and getting under an opponent’s skin without taking a penalty. Chiasson moves well and can accelerate to top speed in only a few strides while maintaining control of the puck. He also has sharp hand-eye coordination to handle crisp passes from in close.”
Chiasson’s development took a hit last September when he suffered a freak injury at Edmonton’s Development Camp. Chiasson got tied up with another player and took an awkward tumble into the boards. The injury was severe enough that he had to get shoulder surgery and he wound up missing six months of play.
After missing 48 games, Chiasson returned to the Wheat Kings in February. He scored six goals and 18 points over 20 games and he then added three points in six playoff games as the Wheat Kings got upset by the Red Deer Rebels in the first round.
It’s been an unfortunate run for Chiasson, as a combination of the pandemic and a freak injury ultimately resulted in him playing only 49 games during his pre- and post-draft seasons. Chiasson boasts an impressive profile as he’s big, skilled, and driven, but he needs to have an uninterrupted season in order to not fall further behind in his development.
The Oilers haven’t yet inked Chiasson to an entry-level deal. He’ll head back to Brandon this fall for his fourth and final season in the WHL with the goal of proving to the organization that he’s worth signing. The skills are there but it’ll ultimately come down to whether he’s able to stay on the ice.
For reference, players who I consider to be “prospects” for this countdown are those who have played fewer than 50 NHL games and are 23 years old or younger at the start of the 2022-23 season.