Vancouver Canucks Prospects Coverage: RW Zack Kassian

Joseph Trenton@@TrentonNHLCFLAnalyst IIIMay 5, 2012

VANCOUVER, CANADA - APRIL 13: Zack Kassian #9 of the Vancouver Canucks fights off the check of Slava Voynov #26 of the Los Angeles Kings while carrying the puck behind the net during the second period in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena on April 13, 2012 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

Zack Kassian, a 21-year-old RW from Windsor, Ontario, played in his rookie season with the Buffalo Sabres. To the surprise of many hockey people, on NHL Trade Deadline Day, his name was brought up by the sports media as a player that has been traded at the final seconds of the 3:00 p.m. deadline.

Kassian later learned from the Sabres management staff that he has been traded to the Vancouver Canucks and was told not to join his Buffalo teammates on the airplane flying to Southern California where the Sabres were set to open a West Coast road trip.

That was Kassian's perspective on the blockbuster trade on Feb. 28.

The Canucks on the other hand, finally found a team that was willing to trade a decent player for C Cody Hodgson. As good a player as Hodgson was at the junior level, part of the issue with him was his influential parents that pressured Hodgson and the Canucks to conform to their demands too much.

As a professional, the right to choose belongs to the hockey club, but Mike Gillis finally had enough with the young forward from Markham, Ontario.

Let's take a look at the biggest strength that Zack Kassian brings to the Canucks. It may not be clear immediately what kind of contribution the team can expect from the 13th overall pick in 2009, but he is a physical specimen, and a guy that is able to play with his 6'3'', 214-pound frame to make it tough for defenders.

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Other than what people see from Kassian physically, the fans can expect a player with underrated scoring touch around the crease. Kassian has a pretty good shot, and with a little more experience and preparation at the professional level, he can become a quality power forward for the Canucks.

In 2010, Zack Kassian played on the Memorial Cup-winning Windsor Spitfires. He scored 77 points in 56 regular-season games. In the OHL playoffs, he scored 6 goals, 10 assists for 16 points in 16 playoff games.

Some critics may look at Kassian's penalty minutes and question if there is a problem with discipline for the hulking prospect, but he is the type of player who plays the way he needs to. He can drop the gloves with the the biggest fighters out there, and he stays away from the unsportsmanlike penalties.

Perhaps Kassian may want to cut down on hooking and holding by getting stronger on his skating ability. If he is able to address that this summer, the Canucks will have a very good prospect on their hands.

In Kassian's rookie year, he finished with 44 games played, 4 goals, 6 assists for 10 points. He also saw limited action in 4 playoff games as a Canuck this post-season.

Give Zack Kassian some developmental time, and he will gradually grow into a very promising Vancouver Canucks power forward.

This is Joseph Trenton reporting for the Canucks Prospects Series.

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