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Edmonton Oilers’ Zack Kassian Poised to Play Alongside Dynamic Duo

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When the Edmonton Oilers acquired Zack Kassian in 2015 from the Montreal Canadiens in alternate for goaltender Ben Scrivens, many anticipated the previous first-round draft choose to fizzle out of the NHL for good. Nonetheless, because the Oilers gave him the chance to steer his profession again on monitor, Kassian has exceeded all expectations by being 100% sober and he has carved out a novel position for himself on the roster.

Given Kassian’s troubled historical past, common supervisor Peter Chiarelli would have instantly shot down the considered him being the lacking piece to Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl’s trio. However right this moment, this unfathomable line has advanced into actuality and Oilers followers expect Kassian to be using shotgun with the dynamic duo within the 2019-20 NHL season.

Zack’s Obtained the Complete Pack!

As Edmonton’s “Swiss Military Knife,” the 6-foot-Three proper winger has not solely demonstrated his capacity to convey a component of nastiness and grit to the Oilers’ sport, however he has proven that he possesses the pace, abilities, and hockey IQ to constantly sustain with the group’s most proficient gamers. In right this moment’s NHL, it’s uncommon to discover a distinctive participant like Kassian who can do all of it: rating, kill penalties, combat, and play a quick sport all collectively. Although many followers imagine he’s not worthy of enjoying first line minutes, it’s value wanting again to when he performed for the Windsor Spitfires within the OHL (recording 77 factors within the 2010-11 season) and when he performed alongside McDavid and Draisaitl for almost all of final season’s remaining month.

Kassian brings extra pace than his league-wide comparables (e.g. Wayne Simmonds, Micheal Ferland, and Matt Calvert) and has the flexibility to ruffle the feathers of opponents like no different. The one purpose why he has not put up numbers like theirs is as a result of he’s trapped within the trenches of the Oilers’ backside six enjoying alongside AHL-calibre gamers.

Zack Kassian (Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports activities)

Kassian was unjustly slotted onto the fourth line at the start of the 2018-19 season, which in the end contributed to him being a wholesome scratch for 3 video games and discovering himself in commerce rumours. He’s rather more proficient and sooner than gamers like Kyle Brodziak and Tobias Rieder, who lack the offensive hockey IQ to match Kassian’s fashion of play. He was pissed off with the underwhelming play of his linemates on the fourth line which resulted in common journeys to the penalty field at essential factors in video games, stopping the group from getting inside one or two targets of the opponent’s lead.

Kassian Deserves Extra Credit score

Followers can harp on Kassian for not preserving his feelings in verify, however usually, he deserves extra credit score. Nobody can deny his knack for utilizing his measurement and pace to hold the puck into the soiled areas and work tirelessly till he scores. He additionally excels at forechecking and biking. He constantly makes probably the most of his probabilities by choosing up the rebounds McDavid and Draisaitl throw on internet, as a result of he’s so exhausting to take away from the slot (a component so many Oilers forwards have been missing lastseason). He’s additionally capable of get to open areas utilizing his unprecedented pace, most notably becoming a member of odd-man rushes and releasing himself up for tap-in targets.

Zack Kassian (left) and Leon Draisaitl. (John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports activities)

Moreover, Kassian’s relentless will to attain has been on show all through his tenure with the Oilers, it doesn’t matter what line he performs on. On the third and fourth traces, he has been the participant to extend his linemates’ tempo. Most notably, he had chemistry with former Oiler Mark Letestu, a cerebral veteran centre who skated as if he was a number of years youthful and sooner when paired with Kassian. Since Letestu’s departure, Kassian has struggled to discover a constant centre to play with who possesses related ability and hockey IQ to seek out him in open areas, that’s, till he was inserted alongside the dynamic duo.

Put Him The place He Belongs!

In my view, Kassian is a novel complimentary participant who must be enjoying alongside like-minded, proficient gamers to ensure that him to maximise his manufacturing. Individuals should not overlook that he was drafted 13th total by the Buffalo Sabres for a purpose. The rugged, 211 lb winger can’t carry and drive his personal line as he was anticipated to do all through his profession, however he’s higher off constantly enjoying with McDavid and Draisaitl the place he can create extra alternatives utilizing his measurement and abilities alongside the boards and off the frenzy. Kassian confirmed promise flanking the 2 superstars particularly within the month of March when he put up six of his 15 targets final season and went a four-game level streak.

Sure, all gamers play distinctive with these superstars, however Kassian gives this line with a more practical cycle dimension, permitting the superstars to rely much less on off-the-rush scoring. Kassian and Draisaitl have proven their skills to work properly on the boards collectively, producing free puck recoveries for McDavid to maintain longer offensive stress. With these two huge our bodies tiring out the opposite group’s defence beneath the purpose line, McDavid will get extra open seems to be on the prime of the slot. Not solely will the cycle be extra harmful, however odd-man rushes might be much more deadly with all three of those gamers crossing the blue line collectively evening in and evening out, with Kassian organising store proper within the goalie’s crease to deposit the uncommon save that’s made on a McDavid-Draisatil rush.

Edmonton Oilers Zack Kassian, Darnell Nurse, Jujhar Khaira and Leon Draisaitl. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Amber Bracken)

Playoffs?

With an expiring contract heading into this season, Kassian might be motivated to have a profession 12 months with the Oilers in hopes of cashing in on an enormous deal on the finish of the season. By enjoying on McDavid and Draisatil’s wing on a extra constant foundation, Kassian ought to reap the advantages of being on a line with two of the most effective gamers within the NHL, however he will even show to Oilers followers simply how priceless he’s to the group come playoff time (if the Oilers do make the playoffs).

Kassian’s intangibles and “playoff hockey” fashion make him a fascinating asset and I’m assured that he won’t solely assist get the Oilers to the postseason with a profession 12 months, however he’ll assist McDavid and Draisaitl soar to new heights by enjoying on their line for almost all of the upcoming season.

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