Who Is Zack Kassian?
Now in his third season with Vancouver, Zack Kassian has already established a reputation as a physical presence in the NHL.
But is this the year he establishes himself as an offensive force as well?
Perhaps ‘offensive force’ is a little much. The 22-year old is currently on pace for 17 goals this season, which would comfortably be his best effort since breaking in to the NHL.
The rugged right winger did find the net ten times last season though, in a lockout shortened campaign. Though a small sample size, the current ‘trend’ points towards greater things offensively for the Ontario native.
If he could go on to become a consistent 20 goal scorer, Vancouver would surely be on to a winner?
Acquired from Buffalo in February 2012, Kassian added a physical presence previous Canucks teams had perhaps lacked – with the teams management ending their fractured relationship with Cody Hodgson in order to get the 6’3″, 214lbs winger.
Some still debate the merits of that trade, especially now the Canucks depth at centre is looking decidedly questionable, but Kassian’s sheer size and willingness to drop the gloves ensured he has filled the previously mentioned ‘physical presence’ role well – even if it has led to transgressions such as his wild ‘hit’ on Sam Gagner, which left the Oilers forward with a broken jaw.
It remains to be seen whether the former Windsor Spitfire, selected 13th overall by the Sabres in 2009, can become a 20 goal scorer on a consistent basis. But in an age where every team is looking for its own Milan Lucic, Kassian might not be a bad substitute for the Cancuks.
It’s hard to imagine Kassian ever matching the Bruins forwards numbers, he only has 4 assists this season and 35 points in his NHL career to date, but Vancouver has put him in a better position to succeed.
If Coach John Tortorella is willing to give Kassian time on the powerplay, or with the Sedins, it is entirely conceivable he could score 20 goals – and once a player has done it once, he tends to get the opportunities to do it again.
With 31 games remaining in the Canucks campaign, Vancouver could be hailing a new star by the end of the season.