Who's this guy?
Weight: 214 lbs (210 without the dentures)
Born: January 24, 1991 in Windsor, Ontario
Drafted in the first round (13th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres, nine slots ahead of Vancouver's first round selection Jordan Schroeder.
What'd he do?
In September, John Tortorella was asked about what he thought about his young power forward. His response:
I want to give him every opportunity to be a huge part of this team, and I told him that...It's something I think the team needs as far as his willingness, as far as his playing into a bigger role. I'd like to see it happen. He's going to get the opportunity, but he's going to sink or swim himself. That's why I contacted Zack. This is a big year for him, and that's why I wanted him to step out of himself and be a big part of this club.
There's a clear order lost in this rambling answer: Torts wanted the 23-year-old winger to take the next step and become an key piece of the offensive make-up. You remember being 23 right? High on life and full of energy, sometimes prone to stupid things? Perhaps that explains why - the very next day after that quote - Kassian highsticked Edmonton's Sam Gagner in the jaw and earned himself a five game ban, ending his preseason early (which, naturally, didn't stop him from being a dick about it later on which also forced an ugly subject to be brought up in the process...les sigh).
When he finally did suit up for the regular season, it was certainly sink or swim. Some games gave you hope he was evolving into a top six option, others you had to stifle the urge for a double facepalm. Remember this was also a time that Burrows was sidelined, so maybe the "I remember what AV did" part of ya'll thought toss Kass up with the Sedins and see what happens. Yeah, no. By late November, Torts stapled Kassian to the bench and, on December 1st against Tampa, Kass was finally banished to Keith Ballard land in favor of Zac Dalpe.
It was really after the Olympic break where Kassian shined. While the rest of the team dried up offensively, Kass lead the way with 15 points in the ten games following the Olympic break (12 points in 17 games to end the year out). Another lowlight was his second suspension for boarding Dallas' Brenden Dillon. However the highlight of Kassian's season may have been on March 23rd against his former employer, the Buffalo Sabres. Kass added an assist on every one of Vancouver's four goals (yes, they actually scored four in one game) whereas Cody Hodgson had zero points on 3 SOG. Not that we're counting or anything.
So was he any good?
|Season||Games||Points||SH%||Corsi For%||Fenwick For %||O/D/St%|
The post-Olympic effort really saved Zack's season and likely earned him a decent raise in the process. He played the most with Richardson, Booth and Higgins and his zone starts, not surprisingly, almost mirror Higgins' (42.7%) and Booth's (45.1%). His SH% of 15.4 was the second highest on the team behind Sestito (derp); that's Henrik Sedin land for comparison's sake. For a young guy that's considered a building block for the new regime it's certainly a promising stepping stone to build on.
What'd we like?
Cool. So what did we hate?
The suspensions obviously. Kassian knows it too. Ideally this is the last season he'll draw the attention of the league's disciplinarians.
So what now?
For Vancouver power forward comparison sake, Todd Bertuzzi didn't hit his stride until 25 and wasn't All Star material until 26. So patience is still the key when it comes to Kassian and his future. He' s heading into the summer as a RFA but should be considered a crucial part of the current rebuild. The new core is on the horizon: Jensen, Horvat, Shinkaruk who could soon join the likes of Tanev (also a RFA) and Kassian as part of the young blood in the team overhaul. Kass still has much to learn, especially away from the puck (his Pen +/- was -10, third worst on the team) so Torts or whoever the coach is needs to keep on him, but if he can start 2014-15 as he ended this season it'll be a huge help for getting the team back on track. There's every hope he can blossom into a top six forward capable of 20-30 goals.
...and no more suspensions.