Zack Kassian was a guest on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer on Monday and said he feels like he’s got a lot more to give when it comes to his contributions as part of the Edmonton Oilers roster. He’s been a first-line player before and built chemistry with Connor McDavid in the past, and while a number of fans and insiders might consider him an afterthought on that top line today, Kassian still thinks he’s got the goods.
When asked how he would assess his season overall, Kassian wasn’t happy with his 2020-21 year personally. He noted that he couldn’t get traction after a couple of injuries. He tried to do too much and make up for everything in one shift, instead of doing the right things gradually. That said, he felt when he returned to the playoffs, felt he was on the right track and doing the right things.
He noted he’s also been doing the right things this summer and training properly. He’s looking forward to this season and while he knows there’s a lot of impatience among the fan base to start winning, the team is ready to get another kick at the can this year.
He was asked about the additions to the Oilers this offseason — Zach Hyman, Warren Foegele, and Derek Ryan — and Kassian says he believes the added depth is huge. “They all bring something to the team that helps us win.” He talked about the changes on the blue line and he noted he was excited about the addition of Duncan Keith and all the attributes he’ll bring. He’s also pumped about how much Evan Bouchard will have grown.
One of the players Kassian will be competing with for a role in the top six is Jesse Puljujarvi and said he was looking forward to the internal competition among players who are working hard to keep improving. Some believe Puljujvari will be given the first shot on McDavid’s line. That doesn’t mean Kassian won’t be trying to win it back and, at the very least, make him earn it.
Kassian Not Conceding Role
Jack Michaels was a guest on Oilers Now the day prior to the Kassian interview and said, “I don’t Kassian is conceding anything.” He added that Kassian feels like he’s still got top-six minutes ahead of him rather than behind him. “I know he’s embarking on the second half of his career but I still feel like he believes he can play with Connor McDavid just as well as anybody.”
One of the reasons Kassian might be a player to watch is because Kailer Yamamoto — who still doesn’t have a contract with the Oilers — has a lot to prove. If there is any delay in his effectiveness because Yamamoto isn’t skating with the team and might not be at camp, Kassian will be more than happy to come in and try to secure that spot for himself.
The Oilers hung onto Kassian despite an opportunity to trade him or move him in the NHL Expansion Draft. He’s got a sizeable salary for what he’s brought this past year, but he’s looking to show the Oilers he’s worth every penny.
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