Zack Kassian 2

Lindy Ruff talks Kassian: “I’ve got a curiosity on where his physical game is going to go”


With just 28 games of NHL experience, Zack Kassian is an unfinished product.

As for what the finished product might look like? That’s what many are wondering — including Kassian’s former coach, Lindy Ruff.

“I liked what he was doing on the offensive side of it for the most part,” Ruff said of Kassian, who was traded at the deadline for Vancouver’s Cody Hodgson. “Good puck protection and hanging onto pucks. I’ve got a curiosity on where his physical game is going to go, and that’s it.”

Kassian’s physicality — or, the promise of said physicality — is a big reason Vancouver acquired him. GM Mike Gillis explained the trade was made to add more size and toughness to the Canucks lineup, with a specific eye on this year’s playoffs. That’s something head coach Alain Vigneault re-iterated yesterday.

“We have got 19 games left here,” Vigneault said. “I am hoping that in these 19 games with the games [Kassian] played in Buffalo, the experience he is going to get with our group, hopefully we can get him to a level where come playoffs he is going to be able to be a contributor with his skill set that he brings.”

Depending on who you talk to, Kassian is either the second coming of Milan Lucic (Kassian’s GM in OHL Peterborough said it’s a pretty fair comparison) or nowhere close to being in Lucic’s league (CBC’s Elliotte Friedman said scouts have wildly divergent opinions on that.)

The Canucks are obviously hoping for the former, but Ruff says it’s too early to project what type of player Kassian will be.

“He’s a young player. You never know with young players,” Ruff explained. “It’s a little bit of hit and miss. There’s a lot of inconsistency usually, so in his case there’s a lot there. It’s whether he’s going to get it to that full potential.”

Kassian made his Canucks debut Tuesday night in a 2-1 shootout loss to Phoenix. He played 20 shifts for 12:27 of ice time, recording five hits and one shot, winning two of three faceoffs.

Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp

Mathew Barzal
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It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.

Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.

Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.

The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit

What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.