Canucks Zack Kassian is Healthy, Waiting to Play

Dec 19 2017, 9:24 pm

Zack Kassian has recovered fully from a finger injury he sustained on November 25, but he’s still waiting to get back into game action.

Kassian was a healthy scratch against the Los Angeles Kings last night and it sounds like he feels he has been ready to play for a while already. If you read between the lines, it sounds like there is a rift between player and management.

Dan Murphy reported this before the game against San Jose:

Interesting that he wasn’t cleared to play when it sounded like he was cleared, but not in shape three days earlier:

And before the Kings game yesterday:

It sounds like he is getting irritated by this and spoke up a little yesterday:

Well it’s about time. Kassian is pissed and wants to prove himself. That’s the attitude I have wanted from Kassian for a while now and I hope we see it.

Kassian is a big man with a lot of potential, but he has more to give than he has shown. He plays way too much of a perimeter game for my liking and doesn’t protect the puck along the boards as much as you would hope for someone of his size.

Kassian has just 5 points in 17 games this year for the Canucks, playing primarily on the third line with limited power play time. That’s not good enough, but he was one of the team’s best players down the stretch last season (13 points in 17 games) playing on an impressive third line with Brad Richardson and David Booth. Perhaps, dare I say, the tough love approach by John Tortorella worked for Kassian. Maybe a little more tough love is just what the doctor ordered.

My issue with Kassian is that he plays more like a 35-year-old Todd Bertuzzi, his idol growing up, than a 25-year-old Todd Bertuzzi. Kassian has something to prove and it’s about time we see that in the way he plays.

Whether management doesn’t like Kassian for his play on the ice or his rumoured lifestyle off the ice, it doesn’t look like he’s a favourite son. He has been the subject of numerous trade rumours, but it would be a curious move to make him a healthy scratch instead of showcasing him if they were looking to move him.

Jason Botchford of the Province reported last night that the word around the NHL is that Kassian could be had for a steep discount. He also reported that a scout from the Dallas Stars was in attendance specifically to see Kassian, anticipating his return to the lineup.

The Canucks have a lot of depth on the wing on their team, so they are in a position to trade one of them. Trading Kassian, especially at a discount, makes me nervous given that he has never really been given the opportunity to flourish.

While Kassian’s main role should be as a winger on the second or third line; he could be an option on the Sedin line against physical teams and he should be a fixture as a net-front presence on the power play. Kassian can’t simply settle for setting-up teammates with saucer passes from the outside. He is a power forward and he needs to show it.

Kassian was taking line rushes with the third line this morning so it looks like he will get his chance. Now go show it.

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