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Lindy Ruff talks Kassian: “I’ve got a curiosity on where his physical game is going to go”

Feb 29, 2012, 12:54 PM EDT

Zack Kassian 2

With just 28 games of NHL experience, Zack Kassian is an unfinished product.

As for what the finished product might look like? That’s what many are wondering — including Kassian’s former coach, Lindy Ruff.

“I liked what he was doing on the offensive side of it for the most part,” Ruff said of Kassian, who was traded at the deadline for Vancouver’s Cody Hodgson. “Good puck protection and hanging onto pucks. I’ve got a curiosity on where his physical game is going to go, and that’s it.”

Kassian’s physicality — or, the promise of said physicality — is a big reason Vancouver acquired him. GM Mike Gillis explained the trade was made to add more size and toughness to the Canucks lineup, with a specific eye on this year’s playoffs. That’s something head coach Alain Vigneault re-iterated yesterday.

“We have got 19 games left here,” Vigneault said. “I am hoping that in these 19 games with the games [Kassian] played in Buffalo, the experience he is going to get with our group, hopefully we can get him to a level where come playoffs he is going to be able to be a contributor with his skill set that he brings.”

Depending on who you talk to, Kassian is either the second coming of Milan Lucic (Kassian’s GM in OHL Peterborough said it’s a pretty fair comparison) or nowhere close to being in Lucic’s league (CBC’s Elliotte Friedman said scouts have wildly divergent opinions on that.)

The Canucks are obviously hoping for the former, but Ruff says it’s too early to project what type of player Kassian will be.

“He’s a young player. You never know with young players,” Ruff explained. “It’s a little bit of hit and miss. There’s a lot of inconsistency usually, so in his case there’s a lot there. It’s whether he’s going to get it to that full potential.”

Kassian made his Canucks debut Tuesday night in a 2-1 shootout loss to Phoenix. He played 20 shifts for 12:27 of ice time, recording five hits and one shot, winning two of three faceoffs.

  1. billsin20xx - Feb 29, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    And it’s too bad but this is why Ruff needs to move on. It’s his job as the coach and leader to mold the players to their maximum potential, which he just can’t seem to do anymore. Look at players like Kassian, Adams, Stafford, Gaustat, Erhoff… why is everyone playing for Ruff not hitting their potentials?

    • drewsylvania - Feb 29, 2012 at 1:43 PM

      What kind of player was Gaustad supposed to be? He just netted a first-round pick in trade.

    • drewsylvania - Feb 29, 2012 at 1:43 PM

      Also, Ehrhoff had started his descent into suckitude before he left the Canucks.

      • danphipps01 - Feb 29, 2012 at 1:51 PM

        Man, what? He posted his two best seasons in Vancouver, then got a shoulder injury in the playoffs that screwed him out of his offensive upside. He was flying in Vancouver. He was never that good in San Jose.

      • kitshky - Feb 29, 2012 at 2:35 PM

        drew drew drew… ya gotta use facts man, theyre really easy to find ya know.

        Ehroff’s two best career years were in Van. 2009/2010 he had 44 points and was a +36, 2010/2011 he had 50 points and was a +19.

        That’s a pretty odd “descent into suckitude”.

      • drewsylvania - Feb 29, 2012 at 2:42 PM

        As a defenseman, he’s also supposed to be good at defense–I saw a lot of turnovers out of him last year.

      • kitshky - Feb 29, 2012 at 3:03 PM

        He was +36 and +19 respectively …while quarterbacking the PP. No, for an offensive defensman he was pretty solid until he got hurt in the playoffs.

      • scottybcboy - Feb 29, 2012 at 6:32 PM

        Drew, hate to do it but, I’ll stick up for your comment. If Ehrhoff was so impressive why did Gillis let him go without as much as an offer. He knew that Ehrhoff’s numbers could easily be replaced by the rest of the D corps and that has been shown to be the right call. Edler and Bieksa, hell even Hamhuis, have filled in the points Hoff was collecting as the beneficiary of the Canucks system and players.

      • taytay099 - Feb 29, 2012 at 10:26 PM

        We called him Errorhoff for a reason. He was our best offensive D, but he sure could bobble the puck at the blue line leading to a breakaway or fail to clear the zone at the end of his shift. I wouldn’t say he ever sucked as a Canuck, but he certainly wasn’t our most steady defenseman. I have to agree with Drew when he says “I saw a lot of turnovers out of him last year.”

        I still miss him.

  2. loinstache - Feb 29, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Ehrhoff’s defensive game was awful near the end of his tenure with Vancouver. Terrible at giving the puck up at the line. His name got tossed around so much because Van’s PP unit was screaming at the time and he managed to get in on it.

    • kitshky - Feb 29, 2012 at 2:38 PM

      Side point, remember that the plus / minus isnt affected by PP points so … I dunno where you get that his defensive game was “awful”.

  3. haterzgonahate - Feb 29, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    Perhaps Lindy should leave Kassian’s game to the Jack Adams winning coach…

    we can file his comments under “how to mis-manage up and coming prospects”

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