RE 16-17 ZACK KASSIAN: THE RUNNER

The career of Zack Kassian has taken several twists and turns in the last year or so, and crossroads can have a major impact—one way or another. I will tell you the thought of Zack Kassian playing in an Oilers uniform took some getting used to, but if you believe in redemption then approaching his Oilers career with an open mind is a given. Zack Kassian has fashioned the beginning of a compelling story. (The Runner)

ZACK KASSIAN 2015-16

  • 5×5 points per 60: 1.13 (No. 10 among regular forwards)
  • 5×4 points per 60: 0.00 (no points in eight minutes)
  • Corsi for 5×5 %: 45.5
  • Qual Comp: No. 6 among regular forwards (2line)
  • Qual Team: No. 6 among regular forwards (2line)
  • Corsi for 5×5 % REL: -8.1
  • Shots on goal/percentage: 42/7.1
  • Boxcars: 36GP, 3-5-8 .222

VOLLMAN SLEDGEHAMMER

VOLLMAN RW

RE 16-17: 62GP, 7-7-14 .226

  1. This seems low. It is about the same pace as a year ago, although I think Kassian will have a better season overall. I do not see him getting a big push on a skill line—thus the boxcars.
  2. He started pretty well a year ago, right? Through the end of February, he was 18, 3-3-6. After that, Kassian finished 18gp, 0-2-2.
  3. What kind of offense should we expect from him? If he was going to be a top 9F? In his last two seasons combined, Kassian is 78gp, 13-11-24. That would be a line in the sand that makes sense from here.
  4. And you nicked him some because? I see Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov, Jesse Puljujarvi and Leon Draisaitl (who will play a lot of center, I assume) ahead of him, and do not see Kassian as a strong top 9F offensively. Could be wrong, but we are looking for reasonable.
  5. He killed it with the Sedins, right? As a Canuck (overall), he played 338:29 with Henrik, 53.9 possession and a 5×5/60 of 1.60.
  6. Killed it! Well, 1.60/60 would have ranked No. 2 among designated RWs on the Oilers a year ago (Eberle 1.85), so if he delivered that kind of offense (Kassian was 1.13) we might be having a different conversation.
  7. So he could do it? If Todd McLellan placed Kassian on the McDavid line, there is little doubt in my mind his numbers would be substantially higher than a year ago. I do not think that is a reasonable projection.
  8. What is his best number? His career 5×5 Corsi for is 50.3 and his 5×5/60 number is 1.56. If he can cobble that on the bottom 6F? Good job.
  9. Is there any way he gets top 6F minutes? Sure. Edmonton has Eberle and then a trio of men (Leon, Yak, JP) with one question or another surrounding them.
  10. But if Puljujarvi impresses? Well, maybe the rookie plays well at home (soft parade) but fades on the road. Kassian might be able to move up from the 4R spot in a case of that kind. Short term, probably, but there is fluidity in the roster, and if Kassian spikes, well, we will all learn to live with it.
  11. So you don’t mind him on the roster? No. I actually liked him quite a bit. Faded after 18 games, as the boxcars suggested, but he was innocent (with an explanation).
  12. Is that a reference to Luba? Yes. I fear there are more incredible Cancons than I have room for this summer. I knew entering the process it would be tough to get everything in, but sadly it is impossible.
  13. Will you have time for Snow White? Nope. Nor Rain-O either.
  14. What did you like about Kassian? He can win battles and send passes that find their mark. Inside the opposition zone, that is a pretty big skill—and a remarkable one for those of us who remember the Lupul era.
  15. Did you like him in 2009? Yes, although I was concerned Edmonton was going to take him too early.
  16. Yeah, right. Where is this article? It is here.
  17. What if he posts 40 points? Kassian’s career high is 29 points, and he is 25. I think it is unlikely—short of 82 games with McDavid—that we see him score 40 points this year.
  18. So, you see him as strictly depth? If Kassian is on the 2line, that means (to me) that both Nail Yakupov and Jesse Puljujarvi have either struggled or are injured—or that Eberle is hurt and one of those two is with McDavid on the 1line. That is reasonable in my opinion.
  19. Is he a short-term option? He could be a long-term addition. Remember, Peter Chiarelli will need value contracts moving forward, and the RW will be expensive soon. Jordan Eberle will be a free agent in 2019 summer, and if Puljujarvi doesn’t develop as a scorer PC may have to re-sign him. An inexpensive 35-point winger (if Kassian can fill that role) would not replace Eberle, but rather allow the team to make RW more cost effective.
  20. Kassian would get a substantial raise after a 35-point season. Sure, that is true. That said, if you are going to have to pay him beyond a certain number, then the value is reduced heavily. Kassian’s appeal to this roster comes in the combination of price versus actual value.
  21. Could he be a value contract? This year. Yes. I think so, even with 14 points. He is a veteran and can move up the depth chart as required.
  22. Is Pakarinen a threat to Kassian? Yes and no. Pakarinen has more speed and an equal amount of gumption, but Kassian brings a rugged style, a mean spirit and is no slouch with the puck on his stick.
  23. Who wins the battle between the two for 4R? I have Kassian winning that contest handily. Doesn’t mean a thing of course, and both men will play if Jesse Puljujarvi is not on the NHL roster.
  24. Would you be shocked if he plays here for five years? Not at all. Kassian was acquired by Chiarelli (helluva trade) and is a good player. I find it somewhat hilarious that the fan base seems to be less offended by Kassian’s penalties than Benoit Pouliot’s—Pouliot being the far better player—but no reason to hold that against Kassian.
  25. Why this song? Several reasons. First, the opening line applies to any player who has reached a crossroads: Through the night, through the dawn, Behind you another runner is born, don’t look back you’ve been there. Someone is always coming up behind. Now, I don’t view Pakarinen (who is a year younger) as a significant challenge—Kassian should be able to win that battle—but Anton Slepyshev may be one sooner than later.
  26. Why this song? Ian Thomas is one of the true treasures of this country. Known by younger folks as the brother of Dave Thomas, he was a solo artist in his own right (Painted Ladies) and wrote a bunch of great songs other artists covered (Runner by Manfred Mann, Hold On by Santana, Right Before Your Eyes by America, Chains by Chicago). Like Eddie Schwartz and Christopher Ward, Thomas had a lot of influence beyond his solo career and crafted many of the songs of our youth. I can tell you this fan turned up the radio many times when an Ian Thomas song hit the airwaves. Underrated talent, and should not be forgotten.

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45 Responses to "RE 16-17 ZACK KASSIAN: THE RUNNER"

  1. frjohnk says:

    Having Lucic on the team will do wonders for guys like Maroon and Kassian.

    Maroon came into last year unprepared and was very inconsistent. Kassian has had his issues we all know about. Both players were dumped by their former teams.

    Lucic not only is a great player and leader on the ice, but off the ice, in his preparation for the game, working out and nutrition, the way he takes care of his body is top notch.

    Maroon and Kassian will hopefully learn a lot from Lucic to become dominant power forwards.

    I think Kassian plays mostly bottom 6 minutes with some spot duty in the top 6 if there are injuries or he is on a hot streak.

    And if there is a really rough game, Id like to see the oppositions faces when we send out
    Maroon-Lucic-Kassian
    Nurse-

    “to calm things down”

  2. Lowetide says:

    frjohnk:
    Having Lucic on the team will do wonders for guys like Maroon and Kassian.

    Maroon came into last year unprepared and was very inconsistent.Kassian has had his issues we all know about.Both players were dumped by their former teams.

    Lucic not only is a great player and leader on the ice, but off the ice, in his preparation for the game, working out and nutrition, the way he takes care of his body is top notch.

    Maroon and Kassian will hopefully learn a lot from Lucic to become dominant power forwards.

    I think Kassian plays mostly bottom 6 minutes with some spot duty in the top 6 if there are injuries or he is on a hot streak.

    And if there is a really rough game,Id like to see the oppositions faces when we send out
    Maroon-Lucic-Kassian
    Nurse-

    “to calm things down”

    I will get to this on Monday with my Peter Chiarelli RE, but one of the good things he has done is to acquire big, rugged players who can actually play. This is NOT JF Jacques on the 1line.

  3. Jethro Tull says:

    frjohnk: And if there is a really rough game, Id like to see the oppositions faces when we send out
    Maroon-Lucic-Kassian
    Nurse-
    “to calm things down”

    Bob Hartley, is that you?

  4. dustrock says:

    Lucic is a real player, and people forget that. He’s not a joke, he’s not a goon who doesn’t take the game seriously.

    Is he the first veteran with “playoff experience” signed by the Oilers this decade who can actually still PLAY? That might be the difference from trying it out with Ference,etc before.

    Re Kassian – you wonder if the Oilers really are going to be like the Pens eventually in that any Joe Player can have a career year playing with McDavid.

    Like, pay me $250,000.00 (ha ha I’d do it for way less) and I’ll literally just skate to the net and have my stick on the ice and I’ll score 12 goals.

  5. Ducey says:

    frjohnk:

    And if there is a really rough game,Id like to see the oppositions faces when we send out
    Maroon-Lucic-Kassian
    Nurse-

    “to calm things down”

    TMc could send out Yak with them – as bait 🙂

  6. frjohnk says:

    Jethro Tull: Bob Hartley, is that you?

    Yes it is, Fonzie!

  7. Lowetide says:

    Ducey: TMc could send out Yak with them – as bait 🙂

    Haha. Man, that is funny—and true!

  8. frjohnk says:

    Ducey: TMc could send out Yak with them – as bait

    After he scores and celebrates like he did against LA in his rookie year.

  9. Jethro Tull says:

    frjohnk: Yes it is, Fonzie!

    A-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-ay!

  10. Ducey says:

    dustrock:

    Is he the first veteran with “playoff experience” signed by the Oilers this decade who can actually still PLAY?That might be the difference from trying it out with Ference,etc before.

    Pouliot. He has 54 games of playoff experience, including 25 games with the Rangers (when they went to the Cup final) the spring before the Oilers signed him.

  11. Lowetide says:

    Ducey: Pouliot. He has 54 games of playoff experience, including 25 games with the Rangers (when they went to the Cup final) the spring before the Oilers signed him.

    I thought Pouliot would be gone by now, honestly. Glad he is still on the roster.

  12. Ducey says:

    Monahan 7 x $6.3 M per. Add in a slightly higher contract for little Johnny and that should take care of the Flames Cap room.

  13. John Chambers says:

    I realize we all need to move on but I’m surprised Kassian’s RE doesn’t include any mention of the pre-season incident from three years ago.

  14. omega4 says:

    dustrock: He’s not a joke, he’s not a goon who doesn’t take the game seriously.

    He’s not a joke, he’s a goon who takes the game seriously.

  15. Pouzar says:

    Lowetide: I thought Pouliot would be gone by now, honestly. Glad he is still on the roster.

    Poor guy gets no respect. Love da Pou!

  16. Ca$h-McMoney! says:

    Kassian is arguably the biggest wildcard on the team in my book (tied with Yak maybe). We’ve seen glimpses of fantastic play from him but little sustain.

    25 years old now. Seems to have turned a corner maturity and sobriety wise (if that sticks and his career never evolves beyond where he is now, he’s still a winner in my book). On top of the mental side of things, we know for a fact he wasn’t in game shape last year, which contributed to somewhere between 5% and 100% of his noted second half decline.

    I believe his upside is 50 points married to a type of crazy that can’t be taught. His downside is no longer in the NHL by January.

    I’ll be cheering for him.

  17. Ca$h-McMoney! says:

    Pouzar: Poor guy gets no respect. Love da Pou!

    McPouBerle would be the LT style line combo. Rolls off the tongue.

    Or McPouPukov.

  18. Lowetide says:

    John Chambers:
    I realize we all need to move on but I’m surprised Kassian’s RE doesn’t include any mention of the pre-season incident from three years ago.

    That was my call. It either becomes no story or THE story. Since RE is looking ahead, I ignored it. Fair point by you.

    CANADA! ROSE!

  19. Pouzar says:

    Ca$h-McMoney!,

    He’s in shape too by all accounts. I am thinking he was the furthest thing from that last year. I cheer for him as well.

  20. russ99 says:

    Big fan of adding a guy like Kassian, despite the baggage. We were way, way too easy to play against.

    I like the idea of Maroon on a line with Kassian, they would cycle the opposition to death and give our scoring forwards easier sorties against worn down defenders later in games – and are also no slouch when we don’t have the puck.

    Wish we had a quality 2-way center to play between them. Nuge??

    It makes me wonder how many losses this season would urge McLellan to abandon unicorns and run a hard-hitting possession third line like he did in San Jose, especially on the road in the west.

  21. DRFNsuperstar says:

    Great new rule in the OHL, 3 fights and you get an automatic 2 game suspension…unless someone got an instigator penalty in one of your fights. That’s how you get something out of the game, change the culture before the guys even make it to the NHL. Next is head shots but that one is more difficult to manage, and I think it will be done in parallel with new protective equipment.

  22. John Chambers says:

    Lowetide,

    Live and let live.

    It’ll be interesting to see how many games Eberle plays with McDavid this season. If they decide to balance the offense that means one of Kassian, Nail, or Puljujarvi spend significant time with Connor and perhaps also Lucic.

    I don’t think the Finn will play a lot of minutes there because of the level of competition.
    Yakupov undoubtedly has the most offensive pedigree, but Kassian is an interesting option based on size and skating ability.

    Either way there’s no shortage of talented big bodies to flank 97.

  23. Woogie63 says:

    Lucic, Henderson, Maroon, Kassian, Nurse, add a new needed dimension to the team.

  24. Genjutsu says:

    I think he could do very well playing with Drai and Maroon killing the soft parade.

    That is my ideal scenario for the season with Puljujarvi starting in Bakersfield.

    If Kassian has his issues behind him I believe he had the skillset to post 40 points.

    The fact that he had the success he did dealing with the issues he’s had speaks to that.

  25. JohnnyOilfan says:

    Serious Gord, heard you last week asked about the steepness of Rogers Place compared to Rexall. From this Virtual Tour http://oilers.io-media.com/web/index.html# it appears that Rogers Place is as steep or steeper!

  26. russ99 says:

    JohnnyOilfan,

    Man, that’s a nice rink.

    Any information on ice sheet size? I’d assume it would be the same as Rexall.

  27. Ducey says:

    Woogie63:
    Lucic, Henderson, Maroon, Kassian, Nurse, add a new needed dimension to the team.

    Henderson?

    Paul?

    He would add a new dimension all right.

  28. BONE207 says:

    Paul Henderson was a Pisani before Fern was even born. Sign him

  29. Centre of attention says:

    Lowetide: I thought Pouliot would be gone by now, honestly. Glad he is still on the roster.

    I think they really tried to move him last year, but injuries prevented it. Another team would hesitate to trade for him until they see him healthy in training camp.

    Stauffer had an insider on last week (name escapes me, from out east) , who said he wouldn’t be surprised if there is a quick series of moves after everyone gets back from the world cup.

    Just something to think about. Peter Chiarelli has a history of being active in-season, so I wouldn’t rule out an early season trade either. Especially if one of the kids catches on early.

  30. Woogie63 says:

    Ducey,

    Dammmmm phone 😤

  31. JDï™ says:

    Awesome version of the song. Inspiring.

    Makes me want to go run a marathon right now, although I’ll probably just run down to the beer store. In my truck.

  32. Skeeziks says:

    As numerous previous posters have opined, I am concerned regarding the need for a veteran 3C to add flexibility and depth to this line up. I am also concerned that the Oilers do not have a right shooting forward to play on the PP.

    Is it realistic to perhaps use some of the depth present at LD to trade for a player that meets the needs noted above?

  33. Gerta Rauss says:

    Skeeziks,

    Would Letestu for Bozak meet your criteria..?

    Would Toronto do that..?…gives them some cap relief. We might have to top up with an assett from the leftorium

  34. elgruntus says:

    Thanks for the Ian Thomas LT. Another national treasure. First time I’ve heard this version

  35. G Money says:

    JDï™,

    Smart. Efficient.

  36. haters says:

    My only gripe about Zack is the refs fucking hate his guts. His penalty drawn/took ratio is horrible.
    Tell me we have a really good Pk group because I think the Oilers will come close to most penalized team in the league next year.

    Might as well add Wideman to make it a slam dunk .., smh

  37. Skeeziks says:

    Gerta Rauss,

    I think Bozak would be a sensational addition. I am not quite sure that we would get him for Letestu. We might have to add a developing LHD to the mix but it would certainly strengthen the line up. I am not sure that the Leafs would go for such a deal because I am not sure how much they need/want extra cap space. Are they really tight?

  38. GCW_69 says:

    The Monahan signing looks great for the Flames *spits*.

    15% more offence, about a third more goals, similar CorsiRel, for only 6% more cap hit than Nuge. No injury issues so far either.

    Sigh….

  39. Lowetide says:

    GCW_69:
    The Monahan signing looks great for the Flames *spits*.

    15% more offence, about a third more goals, similar CorsiRel, for only 6% more cap hit than Nuge.No injury issues so far either.

    Sigh….

    What hasn’t happened there is more interesting than the news today.

  40. Woodguy says:

    Lowetide,

    Here’s that “passing leading to shots” stuff I mentioned on your show: http://www.todaysslapshot.com/one-timers/using-shot-assists-identify-nhls-best-passers/

  41. Woodguy says:

    GCW_69:
    The Monahan signing looks great for the Flames *spits*.

    15% more offence, about a third more goals, similar CorsiRel, for only 6% more cap hit than Nuge.No injury issues so far either.

    Sigh….

    Except Backlund plays almost half the tough minutes whereas RNH sheltered the older Gagner for the same stretch of his career that we see with Monahan.

  42. Centre of attention says:

    Woodguy:
    Lowetide,

    Here’s that “passing leading to shots” stuff I mentioned on your show: http://www.todaysslapshot.com/one-timers/using-shot-assists-identify-nhls-best-passers/

    One respite is that NJ forwards are bad at generating shots in general. By eye, Larsson sets up guys all the time who simply chip it deep and try and win a battle rather than make a play that leads to a shot.

    Larsson could be making Karlsson type feeds all day long, but if the forwards are just “getting pucks deep” and “working hard in their own zone” then no shots will be generated regardless of how good of a passer Larsson is.

    NJ’s system/forward group were holding Larsson’s shot generation back, I’ll go to the grave believing that.

    I know, I’m doomed. 😉

  43. maxwell_mischief says:

    It’s funny that we don’t even talk about Pouliot as part of the functional size crew anymore…
    Literally he was all the Oilers had for “functional size” a year ago-
    since…
    Draisaitl became a legitimate option, Kassian acquired in a ‘one man’s garbage’ type deal, Maroon added for next to nothing, Lucic was signed, and Puljujarvi drafted.
    Lucic 6’3 233
    Maroon 6’2 230
    Pouliot 6’3 200 *
    Draisaitl 6’1 215
    Kassian 6’3 217
    Puljujarvi 6’4 204

    The Oilers group of forwards is, at this point, questionless one of bigger groups in the NHL. Especially within the top 9. This is a much different group than a year ago.
    This definitely fits the chip, chase and out muscle game Mclellan seems to be quite inclined to insist upon. I think it will ultimately help in illuminating the skill of Nuge, Yak and Ebs (of course McD can just do whatever on his own so…). I Love Hall – but the game was always a little difficult to ever really manage with him constantly driving.
    I think It should also be noted that Kassian seems to have gotten his proverbial shit together. Looks in wicked shape, and speaking like a (let’s say) humble person.

  44. Cameron says:

    Lowetide,

    I believe you mean the Gaudreau deal?

    I (and most of FN) are assuming that with Monahan done, the JG deal will now be imminent.

  45. Lowetide says:

    Cameron:
    Lowetide,

    I believe you mean the Gaudreau deal?

    I (and most of FN) are assuming that with Monahan done, the JG deal will now be imminent.

    Ah. I will watch the ticker.

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