One of the new kids on the block, Zack Kassian has the opportunity to bring toughness and perhaps a little bit of scoring to the Montreal Canadiens. After a solid showing in the OHL and at the World Juniors it seemed as though Kassian was destined to become the power forward that every club is looking for. However, injuries,indiscipline and perhaps lofty expectations have marred his young career so far. Now at 24, he finds himself on his third team, having yet to fulfill what was seen as enormous potential. The pressure will be high – playing in Vancouver can be tough at times, but Montreal is the next level, especially when a fan favourite in Brandon Prust was used to bring you in.
Kassian’s final season with the Canucks was a disappointment, as he missed significant time with a variety of injuries and under-produced when in the line-up. After missing five games with a lower body injury, he was almost immediately put on IR with a fractured finger. He returned in January but was once again sidelined for the final 14 games of the regular season and all of the playoffs with a rather troubling back injury, one that he claims is now fully healed. When in the lineup he struggled to find his role with the Canucks,though he did spend some time with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, as he has done in past seasons, before going down for the season.
Season Stats: 42 GP, 10 goals, 6 assists, 16 points, -5 rating, 81 PIMS, 1 PPG, 0 SHG, 3 GWG, 55 shots, 12:37 TOI
(Because of the lockout shortened season, we are pro-rating all of 2012-13’s numbers over a typical 82-game year. We are using a four year average for Kassian as his first season was 2011-2012.)
When the Habs acquired Kassian it was a clear offensive upgrade for the right side. While there’s no arguing against the team losing a little bit of heart, leadership, and defensive awareness in with the departure of Prust, Kassian clearly possesses more offensive upside. But the Alex Semin signing definitely complicates things for Kassian, as he is likely now battling for third line minutes instead of looking like a strong candidate for the second line right wing spot.
At the moment it appears as though Kassian could slot in as the third line right winger beside Lars Eller, giving Montreal a potentially dangerous third line to roll out. The challenge for Kassian is that he will have to prove himself as an effective defensive player if he is going to stick on Eller’s wing as his line tends to draw some tough matchups. If he is unable to do this he may find himself in Coach Therrien’s doghouse rather quickly, thus limiting his fantasy relevance. One has to imagine that Kassian could get a shot on the second powerplay unit to provide a big net presence. Aside from the acquisition of Semin the Habs have done little to shore up a major problem area for the team. If Kassian can prove to be an effective big man in front of the net he could be a tremendous help to the Canadiens’ ailing PP unit.
I had pretty high expectations for Kassian when he was acquired by the Habs as there was little offensive-minded competition at right wing, save Gallagher. It appeared as though he may be in line for second line minutes and time on the power play. The Semin signing has certainly caused me to temper my expectations for this year at least. The other major limiting factor for Kassian is health as he is yet to play more than 73 games in a season and his mysterious back injury only makes that more troubling. If your fantasy league counts PIMS then he certainly brings extra value in the department, but Kassian is a risky proposition in fantasy no matter what.