January 24, 1991 |
Windsor, ON, CAN
|Height||6 ft 3 in (191 cm)|
|Weight||214 lb (97 kg; 15 st 4 lb)|
|NHL Draft||13th overall, 2009
Zack Adam Kassian (born January 24, 1991) is a Canadian professional ice hockey winger with the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League (NHL). Selected 13th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, he began his career within the Buffalo Sabres organization before being traded to the Canucks in 2012. On July 1, 2015 Kassian was traded to the Montreal Canadiens along with a 5th round draft pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft for Brandon Prust. During his junior career, he won a Memorial Cup with the Windsor Spitfires in 2010. Internationally, he competed with Canada's under-20 team at the 2011 World Junior Championships and won a silver medal. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 214 pounds, Kassian plays in the style of a power forward and is known for playing with aggression and physicality.
Kassian was born in Windsor, Ontario, to parents Mike and Shirley Kassian. He has two older sisters and an older brother, Mike Jr. When he was eight, his father died of a heart attack. Kassian has recalled his father's role as having been filled by Mike Jr., who was nineteen at the time, while he grew up. He first began playing organized hockey at the age of eight with the Kingsville Kings. Growing up, he was a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, though he has listed his favorite players as Boston Bruins defenceman Bobby Orr and Todd Bertuzzi, a fellow power forward who was starring with the Vancouver Canucks during Kassian's youth. Also, he taught his second cousin Levi Gould how to play hockey in his early years. 
After a season of AAA midget with the Windsor Jr. Spitfires, Kassian debuted at the major junior level with the Peterborough Petes in 2007–08. Playing in his first career OHL game, he recorded two assists against the Sudbury Wolves on September 20, 2007. He scored his first OHL goal the following month against the Erie Otters on October 11. He went on to score 9 goals and 21 points over 58 games as a rookie. The following season, he improved to 24 goals and 63 points over 61 games. He also had a team-leading 136 penalty minutes and earned a reputation as a willing fighter with 13 fighting majors. That season, he was chosen to play in three All-Star exhibitions. Near the beginning of the campaign, he represented Team OHL in two games against a select team of Russian juniors, as part of the annual Subway Super Series. Kassian later dressed for the Eastern Conference in the OHL All-Star Classic and scored a goal and an assist. Lastly, he competed in the 2009 CHL Top Prospects Game for Team Cherry, a contest in which he injured John Tavares with a hit.
Leading up to the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Kassian was ranked 10th among eligible prospects playing in North America (not including goaltenders) by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau (CSB). Chris Edwards of the CSB heralded him as "one of the toughest guys in the OHL and probably the entire draft", while also highlighting his "play-making and puck-handling abilities". Scouted as a power forward, he was compared to such players as Milan Lucic, as well as retired NHL All-Stars Cam Neely and Keith Tkachuk. Kassian went on to be selected in the first round, 13th overall, by the Buffalo Sabres in the draft.
Kassian went on to attend his first NHL training camp in September 2009 and was returned to Peterborough to continue at the junior level. Back with the Petes, Kassian was chosen to replace the departed Zach Harnden as team captain after Harnden starting playing with the Kingston Frontenacs. Thirty-three games into his 2009–10 OHL season, Kassian was traded to the Windsor Spitfires. Prior to the trade, Kassian had been suspended one game by his team for breaking curfew. Shortly after joining Windsor, he was given a 20-game suspension from the league for his hit to the head of Barrie Colts forward Matt Kennedy during a game in January 2010. Limited to 38 games between Peterborough and Windsor due to the ban, Kassian totalled 12 goals and 31 points. Returning from the suspension in time for the 2010 playoffs, he added 7 goals and 16 points over 19 games to help Windsor to a J. Ross Robertson Cup as OHL champions. The win qualified Windsor for the 2010 Memorial Cup, Canada's national major junior championship, which they won as well. Defeating the Brandon Wheat Kings in the final 9–1, Kassian had a goal and an assist in the championship-winning game.
Following the Memorial Cup win, Kassian was arrested after an altercation at a bar in Downtown Windsor on May 30, 2010. Charged with assault, he reached an agreement several months later, in October 2010. The charge was dropped in exchange for 25 hours of community service, a $500 donation to charity and payment for the victim's dental work. Had he been convicted, Kassian would have been ineligible to cross the border into the United States,[notes 1] which would have conflicted with his hockey career.
Kassian returned to the Sabres' training camp in September 2010. While he was sent back to junior for the second straight year, he remained on the team's pre-season roster as one of the final cuts in October. A month after being returned to Windsor, he signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Sabres on November 2, 2010. Playing his first full season with Windsor, Kassian recorded a junior career-high 26 goals and 77 points over 56 games. His points total ranked second in team-scoring, behind captain Ryan Ellis' 100. He then added 16 points (6 goals and 10 assists) over 16 OHL playoff games, tying for fifth in team scoring. During Game 4 of the Conference Finals against the Owen Sound Attack, Kassian received a match penalty for a hit on opposing defenceman Jesse Blacker, which was ruled as "intent to injure". Following the contest, the penalty was supplemented with an additional three-game suspension, sidelining him for the remainder of the series. Out of the lineup for Game 5, he only needed to serve half of the total suspension as the Attack eliminated the Spitfires four-games-to-one.
National Hockey League
With his junior season over, Kassian was assigned by the Sabres to their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Portland Pirates, for their Calder Cup playoffs on April 29, 2011. The following night, he made his AHL debut in Game 3 of the Atlantic Division Finals against the Binghamton Senators. Appearing in his first three professional-level games, he recorded nine shots on goal without any points, as Portland was eliminated in six games.
Though eligible for a fifth season of junior as a potential overager,[notes 2] Kassian turned professional with the Sabres organization for the 2011–12 season. He was initially assigned to the Sabres' new minor league affiliate, the Rochester Americans, out of training camp and began the season in the AHL. On November 24, 2011, Kassian was recalled by Buffalo. Making his NHL debut the following night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, he recorded his first NHL point, assisting on a Jordan Leopold goal. Playing on back-to-back nights, Kassian then scored his first NHL goal the following game against goaltender Tomáš Vokoun in a home game against the Washington Capitals. Kassian remained with the Sabres for a month-and-a-half in his initial NHL stint before being re-assigned to Rochester. Later in the season, he earned two more call-ups in January and February 2012, respectively.
During his third call-up, minutes before the NHL trade deadline on February 27, 2012, Kassian was dealt, along with defenceman Marc-André Gragnani, to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for fellow rookie forward Cody Hodgson and defenceman Alexander Sulzer. Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis acknowledged the trade as an effort to balance his team out by giving up Hodgson's skill and finesse in return for Kassian's size and toughness. Analysts from TSN and The Vancouver Sun also echoed the sentiment, commenting that while the Canucks gained elements in Kassian that were required to succeed in the playoffs, Hodgson's skill set reflected the style of play that Vancouver's success was based upon.
In a telephone interview with Andrew Greven of TSN shortly after the trade, Kassian said he was surprised at the trade, but was excited to play for a Stanley Cup-contending team. The reaction in the Vancouver media was largely of surprise that Gillis would trade away a well-performing rookie for one that was unproven at the NHL level. The Vancouver Sun columnist Iain MacIntyre declared it "a stunner" and "one of the most unpopular trades in Vancouver in years." Another Sun article likened the deal to a lopsided 1996 trade between the Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins in which two first-round prospects of opposite playing styles – the skilled Markus Näslund and the larger, more aggressive Alek Stojanov – were exchanged.[notes 3]
Kassian made his Canucks debut the night after the trade, registering a shot on goal and 12 minutes and 27 seconds of ice time in a 2–1 shootout loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. Kassian scored a goal and an assist, his first of each with the Canucks, in a game against the Sabres on March 3, his third game with the Canucks. The following game, against the Dallas Stars, Kassian was called to take a penalty shot 24 seconds after the opening faceoff, making it the second-fastest penalty shot to be called in NHL history (after Maurice Richard took a penalty shot 12 seconds into a game against the Chicago Blackhawks). He missed against goaltender Richard Bachman while attempting a backhand deke. On July 3, 2014, Kassian signed a two-year contract extension with the Canucks worth $3.5 million.
|Competitor for Canada|
|World Junior Championships|
|Competitor for Ontario|
|World U-17 Hockey Challenge|
Kassian debuted internationally with Hockey Canada at the 2008 World U-17 Hockey Challenge, competing for Team Ontario. He recorded two goals and six points over six games as Ontario won the gold medal. The following year, he moved on to the under-18 level with Canada at the 2009 IIHF World U18 Championships. With two goals and five points over six games, he helped Canada to a fourth-place finish. Two years later, Kassian joined Canada's under-20 team for the 2011 World Junior Championships in Buffalo, New York. During the tournament, he received a two-game suspension for a hit against Czech defenceman Petr Senkerik, making contact with Senkerik's chin with his shoulder. Kassian returned for the medal round and helped Canada to the gold medal game, where they lost 5-3 to Russia. He finished the tournament with two goals and an assist over five games.
Regular season and playoffs
|2006–07||Windsor Jr. Spitfires||AH||57||32||48||80||136||—||—||—||—||—|
- Even without being charged, it would have been possible for Canadian authorities to prevent him from doing so, as part of the judicial process. A border crossing ban could also have been mitigated through the Department of State, however.
- Major junior teams are permitted a designated number of 20-year-old players on their roster.
- Naslund went on to become the Canucks' all-time leading goal- and point-scorer, while the former had a short career in the minor leagues.
- Jory, Derek (2015-02-21). "Oh brother". Canucks.com. Retrieved 2015-02-22.
- Jory, Derek (2012-03-02). "It's Kass, just Kass". Canucks.com. Retrieved 2012-03-02.
- McIntyre, Gordon (2012-03-17). "Q&A with Zack Kassian". The Province (Vancouver). Retrieved 2012-04-07.
- "Zack Kassian". Toronto Maple Leafs. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- "Zack Kassian". EliteProspects.com. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- "Zack Kassian (RW)". American Hockey League. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- "Prospect Zack Kassian Player Profile". hockeysfuture.com. Retrieved 2009-07-21.
- "Zack Kassian". The Sports Network. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- "Peterborough Petes 2008-2009 roster". EliteProspects.com. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- Chen, Dalson (2010-06-02). "NHL: Police charge Kassian after bar altercation". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- "OHL Windsor's Zach Kassian suspended gets 20 game suspension". Sportingnews.com. 2010-01-21. Retrieved 2010-01-21.
- "Game Summary 115". LeagueStat.com. 2010-05-23. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- "Spitfires' Kassian avoids criminal record". National Post. 2010-10-27. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- "Windsor Spitfires 2010-2011". EliteProspects.com. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- Chauvin, Kevin (2011-04-26). "Zack Kassian suspended for three additional games". Windsorite. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- "Washington Capitals at Buffalo Sabres - 11/26/2011". nhl.com. 2014. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
- Botchford, Jason (2012-02-27). "Kassian's size, toughness brings 'better balance' to Canucks, Gillis says". The Province (Vancouver). Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- "Tradecentre: Canucks trade Hodgson, Sulzer to Sabres". The Sports Network. 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- Pap, Elliott and Cam Tucker (2012-02-27). "Canucks trade rookie Cody Hodgson to Sabres for Zack Kassian". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- MacIntyre, Iain (2012-02-27). "Cody Hodgson trade a stunner - Canucks get tougher, but are they better?". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- Pap, Elliott (2012-02-27). "Canucks' Hodgson-Kassian trade looks a lot like ... well, Naslund-Stojanov". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
- "Canucks 1 - Coyotes 2". Vancouver Canucks. 2012-02-28. Retrieved 2012-03-01.
- Woodley, Kevin (2012-03-03). "Sabres ride fast start to 5-3 win in Vancouver". NHL.com. Retrieved 2012-03-03.
- "Stars 5 - Canucks 2 Boxscore". Vancouver Canucks. 2012-03-06. Retrieved 2012-04-07.
- ElliottPap (July 3, 2014). "BREAKING: Canucks reach agreement ...". Twitter. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
- "Canadiens acquire Zack Kassian and a fifth round pick from the Canucks for Brandon Prust". Canadiens.com. July 1, 2015. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
- Moreale, Mike (2010-12-29). "Kassian suspended; Slovakia pair banned longer". National Hockey League. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Zack Kassian.|
- Zack Kassian's player profile at NHL.com
- Zack Kassian's career statistics at The Internet Hockey Database
- Zack Kassian's career statistics at EliteProspects.com
|Buffalo Sabres first round draft pick