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New Canuck Kassian promoted to second line

Mar 6, 2012, 12:23 PM EDT

Zack Kassian Getty Images

He’s only played three games since being traded from Buffalo, but Zack Kassian is already drawing rave reviews in Vancouver. The big, tough 21-year-old winger has a goal, an assist and a whole bunch of hits for the Canucks, and tonight he’s been promoted to the second line with Ryan Kesler and David Booth.

Coach Alain Vigneault thinks it’s a trio that could be tough to handle if Kassian can maintain his current level of play.

“They’ve got speed, size and skill and two of three have a little edge,” said Vigneault, as per The Province. “If it works out, it’s a good line. Our scouts felt really highly that Kassian has the potential to be a top-six forward and get there fairly quick. How long that’s going to take, I’m not quite sure. He has obviously caught our attention as far as the skill level and the physicality that he can bring. Like any young player, can he maintain it and will it continue? Those are the questions we’re going to get answered.”

Both Kassian and Booth were acquired for their straight-ahead style, a style that’s more commonly known in Vancouver as the completely opposite way Mason Raymond plays.

“I’m working hard because it can be taken away from you in a second and it’s a privilege to play with those guys,” said Kassian. “I want to open up the ice as much as possible and give Kesler a little bit more time with the puck. My role is to be hard on the forecheck and create room and I’m just going to keep doing that.”

  1. velocirapist - Mar 6, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    I’m really interested to hear which guy on that line doesn’t play with an edge. AV has some pretty high standards if he thinks Booth is a bit soft.

    • davebabychreturns - Mar 6, 2012 at 12:39 PM

      I was getting ready to leave the exact same comment. Although it could be that he thinks Booth has an edge (he is certainly willing to take the puck to the net hard), but the more I think about it the more I think it’s ludicrous to say that Kesler does play the game with an edge.

    • wren49 - Mar 6, 2012 at 12:58 PM

      I almost think the quote is being misunderstood by Ben Kuzma.

      It seems more likely that the “three” AV is referring to are the 3 deadline acquisitions. That would single out Gragnani as the softy.

      Either that or he’s putting in a slight dig at Kesler because Booth and Kassian have played hard the last couple games.

  2. warpstonebc - Mar 6, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    Good point, though I haven’t seen both use the butt of his stick or tap anyone after the whistle though. :D Booth seems like the least malicious of the three.

    Promising move. Even if Kassian doesn’t score, he may be able to open up some lanes for Booth and Kesler to hit the net.

    This is exactly why I loved this trade. The Canucks can cycle for hours, but you do need more than one solid tactic in the playoffs. A scoring line that’s good on the rush is a perfect changeup to the Sedin line.

    Hopefully Raymond will be a good fit on the bottom lines. His puck possession and skating are good enough to complement a defensive line. Though I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him as a healthy scratch by April.

  3. nobandwagoners - Mar 6, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    I like Kassian – from what I’ve seen thus far – and his ability to move up and down the lines. But I think he’d do best with Lapierre as an aggressive forechecking line (as they showed they can be). That’d result in a more balanced line up overall.

    Being the arm-chair coach, I’d move Higgins back to the 2nd line to regain the chemistry he had with Kesler and Booth pre-staph infection tribulations; Higgins is wasted on the checking line. Plus, that’d open a spot for Raymond to make himself useful, as he’s completely wasted (and ineffective) in a 4th line role. Might as well shelf Raymond if the only other option is as a 4th liner.

    That way we’d have two balanced offensive lines, a dedicated checking line (centered by Pahlsson) and a 3rd/4th line (depending on how you look at it) that brings lots of crashing and banging but also some offensive potential while still being responsible defensively.

    So it’d look something like this:

    Daniel – Henrik – Burrows
    Higgins – Kesler – Booth
    Hansen – Pahlsson – Raymond
    Kassian – Lapierre – Maholtra (or Weise or Bitz, if around and as needed)

  4. ikillchicken - Mar 6, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    “Both Kassian and Booth were acquired for their straight-ahead style, a style that’s more commonly known in Vancouver as the completely opposite way Mason Raymond plays.”

    Heh. Nice.

  5. Buffalo Grumblings - Mar 6, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    Zach started out the same way in Buffalo at the start of this season. Then he wound up back in the minors. Don’t hold your breath Canuk fans, though I am glad to see you wearing the original unis, TV screen with a hockey stick (classic). And the reason you guys lost the finals is your netminder. Roberto was overrated and overpaid!

    • haterzgonahate - Mar 6, 2012 at 7:46 PM

      Vancouver is not Buffalo. the only negative remarks i’ve heard about Kassian came from the Sabres organization. me thinks he’ll be fine… better than fine actually

      Cody who? lol

      • Buffalo Grumblings - Mar 6, 2012 at 8:38 PM

        Not negative, just the facts. Hodgson will be fine. Watch Kassian when he plays the Bruins!

    • elvispocomo - Mar 6, 2012 at 11:07 PM

      Just to clear things up, the logo is called the stick in rink, because it’s a hockey rink, not a TV screen. Not everyone picks up that the stick coming in from the right makes the rink look like a ‘C’ (for the Canucks) as well.

      Kassian needs to work on his conditioning to be able to play the bigger minutes, but he’s capable of playing to that level once he is. He’ll only get better and looks like he’ll be a very good 2nd liner with size at least.

  6. Buffalo Grumblings - Mar 7, 2012 at 2:08 AM

    I stand corrected although it is still better than those yellow unis with the orange V. How did Zach do tonite against Dallas?

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