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Summer training paying dividends for Canucks’ Kassian

Oct 23, 2012, 10:00 AM EST

Zack Kassian #9 of the Vancouver Canucks tries to get past Christian Ehrhoff #10 of the Buffalo Sabres as goalie Ryan Miller #30 looks on during the second period in NHL action on March 03, 2012 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
(March 2, 2012 - Source: Rich Lam/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

Zack Kassian will be linked to Cody Hodgson for quite some time after the two players were swapped at the trade deadline. It was a controversial deal that didn’t sit well with some Canucks fans — especially after Vancouver was bounced out of the playoffs in five games — but if Kassian continues to make strides, he might make the fans forget about Hodgson.

With the NHL lockout still dragging on, Kassian has started the 2012-13 campaign with the AHL Chicago Wolves after an intense summer training program.

“We actually brought him back to Vancouver to train with the (Sedin) twins for a week,” Canucks GM Mike Gillis said in a Vancouver Sun report. “We put him in Portland at the Nike high performance center for 10 days, we put him in Winnipeg to train with (skills coach) Glenn Carnegie at his facility for three weeks and he was great every step of the way. He worked really hard and is getting results because of it.”

You don’t have to dig deep to see those results. In two games against the Abbotsford Heat, he had two goals and two fights. Overall he’s had four points and 16 penalty minutes in five contests.

“You can see that the pace of his play is much higher,” said Gillis. “He has lost a little bit of weight, but not that much. But he’s much stronger. Lorne (assistant GM Lorne Henning) thinks he’s a stride ahead of where he was and I think he might be a little bit more actually. When he takes off now with the puck he is pulling away from people.”

Kassian feels quicker too and he’s more confident. It helps that AHL Chicago is giving him an opportunity to play in a lot of different situations and get big minutes. That’s something he didn’t get with the Sabres or Canucks in his rookie season.

Kassian is still just 21 years old and so far it looks like he’s taken a significant step towards becoming the power forward the Canucks are looking for. He should rejoin Vancouver as soon as the lockout ends.

Related:

Kassian hoping to justify much-maligned Hodgson trade

NHL scout calls Hodgson-Kassian deal “a terrible trade for Vancouver”

  1. elemeno89 - Oct 23, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    ill take hodgson any day over kassian. with that said, im glad zack is filling into his role.

    • markdelleman - Oct 23, 2012 at 11:56 AM

      ^ Why would you take Hodgson over Kassian?

      Hodgson has shown more this far but as far as high end goes Kassian will be more dominate all day long. Either way we will have to see what happens in the coming years before coming to a conclusion on who the better player is.

      • elemeno89 - Oct 23, 2012 at 2:47 PM

        the sabres lack at depth in the center position, plain and simple. this was a STEAL for the organization that bleeds at the seams with talented wingers, and hasn’t had a true center corps since drury/briere left.

        this trade helped solidify a newly discovered center corps for the team beginning with hodgson, then ennis (who seemed to be a lucky turnout, rejuvenating stafford and helping foligno flourish), grigs (who is making a JOKE out of the Q), ott (a grinder that can score, much like kassian will be), and girgensons (who harrolds comparisons to ryan kessler)

        all of that sounds good to me. im not saying you’re wrong, just stating an opinion.

    • desertfan - Oct 23, 2012 at 12:29 PM

      Went to the games.
      Looks like Kassian is the real deal.
      Ready to fight everyone , every shift.
      Game 1- Goal, foght and SO winner.
      About the same next night.

  2. blomfeld - Oct 23, 2012 at 3:52 PM

    HODGSON > KARDASHIAN

    In all seriousness, this trade was a win/win. Something was wrong here between Hodgson and Canuck’s management and it was never going to work properly, so they did well by getting a decent asset in return with Kassian. The Sabres on the other hand are sitting pretty good with this trade. Hodgson is likely to flourish there, in a way which would never have been possible here in Vancouver.

    • danphipps01 - Oct 23, 2012 at 10:48 PM

      Agreed. Still kind of wish Gillis had tried to package Hodgson with another piece and gone for a solid third-line centre replacement, though. We need someone to take over Malhotra’s minutes in the fairly near future. He’s just not the same player as he was before the eye injury.

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