Though not much of a goal-scorer, Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian has become an important part of the lineup.
The 26-year-old finished the 2016-17 campaign with seven goals and 24 points through 79 games this season and was a plus-4. He also racked up 201 hits and had just 39 giveaways. Kassian also had outstanding momentum in the playoffs and scored three critical goals in 13 postseason games.
Overall, it was an impressive season for the 6-foot-3, 207-pound forward, where he showed true ability as a two-way, versatile winger and a trend in the right direction. He also continues to make a comeback from a rough 2014-15 year and gets better as time goes on. Kassian has also played well enough to earn a one-year extension this offseason, and he continues to emerge as a fan favorite.
Going into this season, he may be eyeing a bigger role with the team. Edmonton lacks depth on the right side heading into 2017-18; Leon Draisaitl can continue to play the first line right wing, and Jesse Puljujarvi is bound to add some offensive edge and make a run for a full-time NHL gig. Jussi Jokinen also brings plenty of experience; however, his totals have been on the decline as he gets older. This is where Kassian comes into play.
He hasn’t had too much luck in the scoring department, and his totals are not reflective of his actual on-ice efforts. In fact, Kassian has scored a number of goals that have been disallowed for one reason or another, and despite just seven goals, he has brought a lot of offence to the table.
The former 13th overall pick is a solid skater and uses his size to his advantage. He is a power forward with great two-way ability and can win battles for the puck. In addition, Kassian has playmaking potential and can add more offence to his game. His mentality has also changed over the years, and he has matured and has been a more positive presence to have on the team.
With that being said, Kassian can make a huge impact this year. The Oilers need their wingers to step up and contribute offensively, and he is ready to add more of an edge to his game.