Posted 17 July 2012 - 11:11 PM
Depends on a few things obviously - if the Canucks sign Doan, Kassian's top six opportunities will be significantly less, barring injury. If the Canucks don't sign/acquire another top six player, I could see Kassian moving up and down the lineup again, quite effectively - he and Hansen are the only natural right wings on the roster.
I fundamentally disagree with people who suggest he looked lost last year - he hasn't had the seasoning of the AHL, but IMO he is ready for the NHL and showed that in his short stint with the Canucks - he wasn't consistent, but he arrived in a new town, joined a contender in the playoff stretch, was replacing "the future captain of the Canucks", and was shuffled through the lineup - but one thing was consistent - the young guy can and will play at both ends of the ice, and that makes him a low risk young player. He was already more responsible than the player he was traded for and if you look at his numbers, his relative corsi was +1.8, whereas Hodgson was -6.8. I love the acquisition of Kassian.
With all the things Kassian has going for him, he can contribute whether he is scoring consistently or not, which is why I think he has a great chance of staying in the NHL and developing very nicely along the lines that Kesler, Burrows and Hansen did. Did anyone else notice who had the biggest smile on his face the day of the trade deadline? It was AV - and not just because the Canucks were moving Hodgson - AV no doubt loves what he sees in Kassian, and why wouldn't he. Kassian may not hit Bertuzzi scoring numbers until he is 25, but he also won't take until his mid thirties and a move to the Red Wings to learn how to play hockey on his side of the blueline. I love Bert, but he was an atrocity in his own end - he camped at the blueline waiting for the breakout when he was physically capable of making Morrison's job so much easier. The West Coast Express had a weak spot - it was being fore-checked hard - between a smaller center in Morrison and two one-way forwards in Naslund and Bertuzzi, that weakness cost a lot, particularly when teams started to put that formula together.
I think Kassian has the opportunity to be a skys-the-limit type of player - this year all I expect is that he shows up in shape, works hard, and continues where he left off last year. Good decisions with the puck, skates hard, smart level of aggression, takes his cue from his leaders and doesn't try to do too much. Won't be surprised if he has a very good season.