Playoffs have begun! While I would love to be able to sit here and talk about the Oilers playing in the playoffs, controversial offside calls, and all that fun, instead I get over-analyze the 2015-2016 Oilers roster and try and figure out who will and won't be back. Way more fun, right?
Over the next couple weeks I'm going to go through the Oilers roster, and look at the players that aren't part of "The Core." Today I will be putting my sights on Zack Kassian.
The Scrivens for Kassian trade brought out some interesting discussions. I think many fans were in agreement that Scrivens was done as a goalie in Edmonton. Playing in the AHL, Ben was also taking playing time away from guys like Brossoit. Trading a guy who had no future with the organization for a guy who might seems like a no brainer.
Unfortunately the name Kassian left a sour taste for many fans. His hit and subsequent mockery of Sam Gagner had him labeled as Public Enemy #1 for a time. Trading the well liked and solid character of Scrivens for a guy of Kassian's reputation caused some debate.
Funny thing with players of Kassian's skillset; people don't seem to mind it so much when they play for your team.
So did he play well?
There were good things and bad. Kassian had 8 points (3G-5A) in 36 games with the Oilers. 4 of those points came in his first eight games. He averaged 12 and a half minutes a night through his season.
Arguably the biggest element Kassian brings is his physicality. He was 6th on the team in hits with 95, playing 30 fewer games than everyone ahead of him. Actually Kassian was a hitting machine, his prior highest total was 91 and that was in 73 games with Vancouver.
We all know that Chiarelli will have his work cut out for him the off-season. In his post season address he spoke once again about adding size and informing us that he wants to add even more. Kassian appears to fit the mold of a Chiarelli player. But where does he fit long term?
Ideally Kassian becomes the third line player the Oilers need. A physical player who can provide complimentary scoring. Unfortunately his production with the Oilers is a concern. At his current production he looks more like a 4th line player.
However the off ice, personal issues that Kassian struggled with this past year should not be dismissed when it comes to discussing his on ice production. He was suspended by the Canadiens at the beginning of October and acquired by the Oilers at the end of December. On top of not playing hockey during this period he also had to work with the NHL's Substance Abuse Program. Working through all of that he had just a couple weeks conditioning stint with the Condors before being called up by the Oilers January 14th.
From all of this I think it's safe to say Kassian was not physically or mentally at 100% and it was visible in his on ice performance as the season went on. The two biggest questions become; will he be able to put in the effort and be fit to play a full season and second will he be brought back next season?
This is where we get into the fun legality issues. Right now the Oilers can try and re-sign Kassian for a lower dollar value however if the two sides cannot come to an agreement the Oilers would have to qualify him at his current contract in order to retain his rights.
It's my opinion that Kassian could be a good fit for this team with a smaller price tag attached to his name. The Oilers are the organization that gave him a second chance and while I know next to nothing about contract negotiations, I would hope there would be some loyalty given by Zack because of that.
I see another one year deal as the best option for both sides. To use MacTavish's words I believe they should "challenge" him with a 1 year, 1-1.25 million dollar contract and prove he can once again be an effective NHL player.
Thanks for reading!