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Canucks Player Autopsy: Zack Kassian

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Born: January 24, 1991 (24 years-old) in Windsor, Ontario.

Drafted: The right winger was drafted in the first round (13th overall) by the Buffalo Sabres in 2009.

Size: 6'3", 214 pounds. I'm willing to wager he may be a bit heavier than that.

Contract status: Made $1.75 million this season, will make $2.0 million next season and then become a restricted free agent.

Traded: On February 27, 2012, the Canucks traded Cody Hodgson and Alexander Sulzer to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani.

Career Stats:

Injury and Benching

Kassian played 42 games this season. He missed 14 games with a broken finger in December. He missed 5 games due to a knee injury in November. He missed 14 regular season games with a back injury from March 14 right til the end of the season and playoffs. That's 33 games right there. The remaining 7 games were mostly healthy scratches. That back injury though...not the first time in his career...concerning.

The Young King Of Inconsistency

Ladies and gentlemen, the most puzzling player on the Canucks' roster. Some love him. Some hate him. Some want to be patient with his development. Others think this is as good as he gets. Mr. Kassian's scenario is most interesting and frustrating at the same time. You see some of the moves he makes and the gritty and sexy goals he scores. You also see him float around on the ice and not backchecking. You want to see him play through the bad stuff and learn yet the coaching staff has him on a short leash. Kassian is inconsistent. That's not just my opinion. How about a word from the Captain back in February:

"We’ve all seen what Kass can do — he’s big, he’s strong. I compare him to Todd Bertuzzi when he was here, the size and the skill. But this is the NHL — it’s not an easy league. You have to be able to play against the best. You have to be able to play in your own end. You can’t turn the puck over in certain areas. It’s not junior. If you make a big mistake, it usually costs you a game.

"I feel bad for him because there’s a lot of pressure on him to score and be a certain type of player. But he needs to feel like he can just be good, doesn’t need to be great. Just be good and make plays. But he’s going to have to start over and show everyone that he can play."

"He can dangle and make plays. That’s when he’s at his best. But he needs to finish hits when they are there. He needs to make good plays. There’s a lot of different things that go into being a professional every day and being part of this. You have to show up and do the same things over and over. It can’t just be a game here, a game there.

"We had the same problem when we were that age. It’s not easy."

Quite an in-depth opinion from Hank. You can read the earlier part and think Kassian is damned, but that last sentence really put some balance into the tone of the comments. Even having said that, it just shows that none of us really know if Zack Kassian is going to find consistency and stick in the NHL. Hell, he may not even stick with the Canucks for starters. Jim Benning has no loyalty to Zack. Kass is Mike Gillis' territory. But Benning has basically echoed Henrik's sentiments all season long about Kassian, which means that Benning supports Willie Desjardins' short leash on Kassian.


OK, so let's take a closer look at Zack's stats.

-The past 2 seasons, under 2 different coaches, Kassian has managed about the same .39 points per game.

-I hate his plus/minus numbers. Always a minus at the NHL level. A -18 in 198 NHL games.

-As you can see in the career stats above, Kassian kicked ass in the Ontario Hockey League. After that he only played 59 regular season games in the American Hockey League. The rest (198 games) are in the NHL. For a guy that struggles with inconsistency you'd almost think that more time in the AHL would have been a good thing.

-If you look at Zack's game-by-game stats this season you can see that his time on ice was all over the map.

-You will also see that February was his best month of the season, as he scored 7 goals and 2 assists in 10 games. He was a +5 in February.

-AND: Between November 1 and January 27 Kass scored a measily no goals and 2 assists in 15 games. Also a -8 in those games.

-Hell, if Zack played the whole season and scored 20 goals, he would have been tied for 2nd on the team with Daniel Sedin. That's a positive!

-Kassian's 3 game winning goals tied him for 4th on the team with Burrows and Dorsett.

-Kassian's 18.2% shooting percentage was tops on the team with players having played more than 3 games.

-His 12:37 average time on ice per game ranked him quite low on the team, meaning he wasn't used much in special teams situations and I can damned-well recall he wasn't used much when the Canucks were protecting a lead in the latter stages of a game.

-Had he played all season, he would have led the team in hits. So, his hits per game average was the best on the team.

-Zack Kassian does not block shots.

-Ya know, Kass wasn't too bad in the CORSI category. Middle of the pack actually. Screw it, he only played 42 games. Not a big enough sample size.

-Go advanced stat nerds go.


Here's what happens when you play Kassian with the Sedins.

Example 1:

Example 2:

Example 3: Good god what a blast against the Bruins:

Look at him going to the net though. It's a good thang. Just not consistent with it, much like fellow big guy Shawn Matthias.

If he thugs Kesler, we like that:

In fact, the way Michael Ferland was decking Canucks players in round 1 of the playoffs it's a shame that Kass was not playing.

Zanstorm's Rating For Kassian


Hoping for some consistency from Zack. I sure love players like this. The realized and activated potential of a big power forward is exactly what the Canucks need right now. You just can't solely be a gifted power forward though. You have to consistently play the 2-way game.