Well the title is really all I need on this but for kicks, lets keep reading. Zack Kassian was brought in to Vancouver to be the beef. He was brought in to be the answer to the bullying the Canucks were receiving. He was brought in to make teams fear playing Vancouver. Zack Kassian is NOT Todd Bertuzzi. He has not scared anyone.
He might not even be here that long.
When Cody Hodgson was shipped out, Kassian was instantly tied to Cody’s future production. If Hodgson went on to a star career and Zack didn’t, it would be just one more bust trade chalked up to terrible past decisions in Vancouver. Kassian was thrust into the gauntlet and we are all waiting to see how he gets out. Multiple line mates, inconsistent production and the ability to disappear. With a build like Zacks, alarms start sounding when he doesn’t fill out.
The problem with Kassian’s growth is that he doesn’t seem to learn. He has bonehead tendencies which cause him to take the same types of penalties at the wrong times and offensively he doesn’t go where his body should allow him to go. When you are built like Todd Bertuzzi, you drive to the net and play in front of the crease to get what you want. Either he doesn’t want to get banged up or he doesn’t have the ability to be that type of player.
If you remember, Todd Bertuzzi not only had hands softer than pillows, but he used his body to get what he wanted. From driving down the wing on the backhand and pulling it forehand top shelf to taking cross check after cross check to the back while he parked his big ol’ butt in front of goalies league wide. Bertuzzi had it all and for a time was THE best power forward in the game; he had a Gatorade commercial. He used what he had and knew how to translate that into point production. It didn’t hurt that he had Markus Naslund as his line buddy.
While its plain to see that Kassian is not Big Bert, its frustrating to see why he hasn’t made the next step in his progression. His hands are indeed smooth, he has the ability to puck control along the boards and keep it from going to his opponents stick. What Kassian doesn’t do is drive the net when we all know full well it would be tough to take that puck off his stick. So why not just adapt and take the league by storm? I can’t speak to that as anyone that knows me knows I can’t exactly play. Ask around.
The thing is: Kassian’s time is running out. There are players more than willing to take his spot. Hunter Shinkaruk and Bo Horvat, Nicklas Jensen and eventually Dane Fox; these guys are young, hungry and uber talented. Zack Kassian needs to get his game in check. The NHL is for the elite and Kassian hasn’t proven he is indeed that; not in the NHL and definitely not in Vancouver.
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Cover photo courtesy of o.canada.com