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Kassian hoping to justify much-maligned Hodgson trade

Aug 31, 2012, 2:30 PM EDT

Zack Kassian Getty Images

“What the hell did you trade Cody Hodgson for? He had 19 goals and 22 assists last year. He’s got a rocket for a shot. YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL YOU’RE DOING!”– Frank Costanza, if he were a Canucks fan, to Mike Gillis

In response, Vancouver’s GM would list a couple of reasons, including Hodgson’s desire to be moved and the fact the player that came over from Buffalo in the deadline deal, Zack Kassian, was exactly the kind the Canucks had been looking for. Specifically, a big, young power forward that could develop into a top-six winger, a la Milan Lucic.

At least, that what was the hope.

But when Vancouver was eliminated by the Kings in the fifth game of the first round, Kassian was in the press box as a healthy scratch.

That the Canucks managed just eight goals in those five games made Gillis’s position even tougher to defend. Surely they could have used Hodgson’s play-making ability.

Kassian, 21, knows what people have been saying.

“I still have a sour taste left in my mouth not playing in the last game,” he said Thursday, as per The Province. “I remember those things and I want to prove myself. You’re mad and upset, but at the same time you know if you’re not playing good someone else is going to come in. It’s in the back of my mind and makes me hungry.”

According to The Province, Kassian – the 13th overall pick by the Sabres in 2009 – has been put through an “offseason regimen that focused on nutrition, speed and quickness.”

Based on the timidity he displayed last spring, they might also want to put him through an offseason regimen that focuses on punching stuff.

“This is a great spot for me and it’s time for me to prove it,” said Kassian. “It’s an opportunity. Last year was my first pro season and there are a lot of ups and downs. It’s unbelievable here. Any time you play in a Canadian city — and especially Vancouver — it’s crazy. In Buffalo, there is good hockey and good fans but this is a whole different level. That’s fun to be around but you’ve got to do your job and do it every night or you’re going to get criticized.

“I’ve got to be consistent. That separates the good players from the average.”

  1. DTF31 - Aug 31, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    Any time he showed an edge Vig stapled him to the bench. Sometimes you have to suck up a boarding penalty so he can keep defenders guessing on the forecheck.

    • loinstache - Aug 31, 2012 at 4:52 PM

      I think of all the Canucks who stand to be scrutinized starting the year, AV is near the top of the list despite his contract just being renewed. He’s had a lot of success in the past two seasons but he’s shown some baffling favouritsm, a general lack of creativity in line match-ups as well as a lack of inspiring players out of their slumps.

  2. davebabychreturns - Aug 31, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    Most young players need to learn to pick their spots well, and Kassian is no exception (having a lengthy suspension and a bar fight on his track record to this point in his young life). A lot of power forwards don’t find their game until a little later than other players and at just 21 ZK has a lot of time to figure things out.

    That being said he looks like the type of player who will thrive once his decision making improves to the point where he doesn’t have to think very much out there. Improved fitness will buy him some more time and a bit more experience and confidence will help him take advantage of that extra step.

    Still, it’s likely that Kassian’s season is like most young players first few seasons in the league – characterized by bouts of inconsistency puntuated by flashes of brilliance. I wouldn’t expect him to do much more than tread water as a depth player this year, with perhaps a breakout season coming once he’s got another year under his belt.

    That being said a player of his size and demeanour still has a lot to offer the Canucks in the meantime.

    As for Cody Hodgson I wish the guy well, but watching him get dominated matching up against players like Darren Helm last year has me convinced he too needs a fair bit of work on his game to live up to his billing in this league. He can probably produce offense this year given the role he is likely to get, but realizing his potential as a less one-dimensional player will take time.

  3. rainyday56 - Aug 31, 2012 at 10:33 PM

    I couldn’t open the link to the Province article because I used up my minimum items read for the month. They charge to read their web site! Cheap so and so’s. You and Half’ were right to leave the paper. Cheap c**ts. Probably had to buy your own nose bleed hockey tickets. Or use Gallagher’s …. ;)

  4. jacketsfan7 - Sep 1, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    Gotta luv both playas

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