As Zack Kassian officially announces his retirement, we look back on his time in Edmonton, where he became a firm fan favourite with the Oilers.
On Thursday, Zack Kassian officially confirmed his retirement after 12 seasons in the NHL. This included seven seasons with the Edmonton Oilers.
Kassian released a statement via the NHL Players’ Association. It read:
"“To play in the NHL is one thing, but to make a 12-year career of it is pretty special. From coaches to equipment staff and fellow players I’ve met along the way, I’ve made so many relationships that are going to last a lifetime.”"
The 2009 13th overall draft pick’s early career in the NHL saw him deal with adversity both on and off the field. This included being involved in a car accident following a trade to Montreal, which resulted in him having to enter the NHL’s substance abuse program.
Kassian never played a game for the Canadiens and was subsequently traded to the Oilers, where he turned his NHL career and his life around. Here are five highlights from his time in Edmonton:
1) Kassian scores his first goal for the Oilers
2) The playoff drought ends
Of course having a certain Connor McDavid undoubtedly helped. However, Kassian also played his part in helping the Oilers return to the playoffs in 2016-17, after a 10-year drought.
In the playoffs, the Oilers narrowly missed out on the Western Conference Finals, losing in seven games to Anaheim. Regardless, Kassian did enough to convince the team to sign him to a three-year, $5.85 million extension during the offseason.
3) The battle of Alberta
4) Kassian justifies the Oilers’ faith
The Oilers were so happy with Kassian’s play, they signed him to a second contract extension during the 2019-20 season. This time, the deal was for four years and worth $12.8 million.
The Windsor, Ontario native repaid the faith, by finishing with a career year. He set single-season highs with 19 assists and 34 overall points, while also tying another career-best with 15 goals.
5) So close but yet so far
The 2021-22 campaign would prove to be Kassian’s final one in Edmonton, as they traded him to Arizona during the subsequent offseason. However, he almost got to go out on the ultimate high.
Even though the physical winger wasn’t quite at the same level as previous seasons, he still did more than enough to help the Oilers advance to their first Western Conference Finals since 2005-06. Unfortunately for the team the Stanley Cup Final was just one step too far, as they were swept by the Colorado Avalanche.
Kassian retires having produced 203 points in 661 regular season games, with another nine points in 45 playoff games. For the Oilers specifically, he recorded 136 points in 412 regular season, along with all nine of his career postseason points in 37 playoff games.
As per NHLPA.com, the former Vancouver Canucks’ 913 career penalty minutes currently rank ninth among all skaters since he joined the NHL in 2011. For the Oilers specifically, he led the team in penalty minutes in six of his seven seasons in Edmonton.