Tag: Zack Kassian

Jake Virtanen

Virtanen has sights set on making Canucks


The sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, Jake Virtanen has high expectations for next season.

“My goal is to make the team,” the 18-year-old said this week at Vancouver’s prospects camp, per the Times Colonist.

Virtanen is a big winger the Canucks are hoping can turn into an elite power forward.

If that description sounds familiar, it’s because the Canucks just traded away Zack Kassian, a big winger they’d hoped would turn into an elite power forward.

Canucks GM Jim Benning has said of Virtanen: “He knows how to hit. He likes to hit.” Which is something that was never said of Kassian during his time in Vancouver. In fact, some felt Kassian was miscast, that he’s really a finesse player, not a wrecking ball.

Virtanen concedes his defensive game remains a work in progress.

“A 200-foot game is what I have to work on,” he said.

And yes, they said that about Kassian, too.

Related: Kassian vows to give it all for Habs: ‘As you grow older, you mature’

Changes continue for Canucks after reportedly letting go of their head trainer


Eddie Lack was traded. Kevin Bieksa was traded. So, too, was Zack Kassian.

Assistant general managers Laurence Gilman and Lorne Henning, and director of player personnel Eric Crawford were all let go this week, following the NHL Draft and first day of free agency.

The Vancouver Canucks, under the regime of general manager Jim Benning and president Trevor Linden, have undergone numerous changes in player personnel and hockey operations in the last week, as the management group, entering its second full year, continues to put its stamp on the organization.

On Friday, there was another change, this time to the training staff, according to a report from Jason Botchford of The Province.

From The Province newspaper:

Along with gutting their front office, the Canucks have also let go Mike Burnstein, their 20-year head trainer, the team has confirmed.

This one is going to gut many players who have bonded strongly with “Burnie” over the years.

Among the non-players, there are not many people the Canucks work with more closely than Burnstein.

Video: Addition of Prust gives Canucks two willing fighters along with Dorsett


Brandon Prust is known to drop the gloves on occasion. So, too, is Derek Dorsett.

After Wednesday’s trade that sent Zack Kassian to the Montreal Canadiens and Prust to the Vancouver Canucks, it’s possible both Prust and Dorsett are on the same line when the 2015-16 season begins, and that could make things interesting for opposing teams as well as for fans, who will surely have to keep an eye on both players when they’re on the ice.

Dorsett, acquired by the Canucks at the 2014 NHL Draft, had 17 fighting majors this past season, according to hockeyfights.com. The 31-year-old Prust had 16. Last season, while playing on different teams, Dorsett and Prust combined for 309 penalty minutes.

“Prust is going to supply us the toughness for our young kids so they don’t get pushed around,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning told TSN 1040 radio on July 1.

The addition of Prust should help ease the burden Dorsett faced last year as Vancouver’s tough guy, a role he accepted while also playing regular minutes as a bottom-six forward and establishing career highs in assists and points.

Of course, given their penchant for fighting, it seems only natural they’ve had a disagreement between them in the past.

Discuss: Where’s the best fit for Alex Semin?

Carolina Hurricanes v Columbus Blue Jackets

Alex Semin isn’t the only NHLer who’s been accused of wasting his God-given talent.

Two others — Phil Kessel and Zack Kassian — were traded yesterday. The latter vowed today to figure out in Montreal.

But Semin remains unsigned. Earlier this week, he was bought out by the Hurricanes, whose GM proceeded to say of the 31-year-old winger: “He did not have that high compete level, for whatever reason.”

He didn’t score many goals either. Just six of them in 57 games last season, while seeing his ice time fall to an average of 15:55, the lowest since his rookie campaign over a decade ago.

In 2009-10, Semin scored 40 goals for the Capitals. He has 238 tallies in 638 career NHL games.

Hence, his agent’s claim that there was immediate interest in his client.

For a cheap, short-term prove-it deal, signing Semin has the potential to pay off.

Maybe he joins a contending team, unlike Carolina, and rediscovers his enthusiasm.

Maybe he has a little more puck luck. His shooting percentage dipped to 6.5 percent last season, whereas his career rate is almost double that (12.8).

Maybe he’s a complete bust and at least he was cheap.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are still looking for a winger. Imagine Semin and Phil Kessel on the same team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin?

The Florida Panthers could use a scoring winger, though there may be a concern about Semin’s attitude around all those talented young players.

The Devils need to score more.

Any other teams come to mind?

Kassian vows to give it all for Habs: ‘As you grow older, you mature’

Zack Kassian

“My time in Vancouver, deep down I feel I could have given more and I think they knew that.”

If there was one quote that left Canucks fans shaking their heads yesterday, that was probably it. Zack Kassian admitted that he didn’t give it 100 percent.

It’s been suggested that Canucks management should take much of the blame for Kassian’s failure to develop into an impact player, on a team that desperately needed him to be one. But, ultimately, it’s up to the player to fulfill his own potential.

Now a member of the Montreal Canadiens, the 24-year-old is vowing to apply the lessons he learned in both Buffalo, which drafted him 13th overall in 2009, and Vancouver, which traded Cody Hodgson to get him in 2012.

“It’s a tough league. As you grow older, you mature,” Kassian said Thursday.

“I really feel like Montreal’s a great fit for me. I’m ready to do everything to help the team win. I’m excited to get there. At the end of the day, nobody wants to get traded two times. But it’s a learning curve.”

For the record, Kassian says his back is fine: “Everything’s good, very healthy.”

He also rejected the notion that he’s been miscast as a big, tough power forward: “I can play physical, I can grind it, I like the cycle game. But at the same time, I like to make plays. I like to score goals. I think when I’m at my best, I can kind of do both.”

The Canadiens did not take a huge gamble on Kassian. They gave up popular forward Brandon Prust, but he’s 31 and only a year away from unrestricted free agency. Kassian is the one with the upside. And besides, the Canucks threw in a fifth-round draft pick. 

“There’s a reason why players are available, but I’ve talked to the young man and we’ve done our homework,” Habs GM Marc Bergevin said“We believe that he has potential.”

Of course, that’s what they said in Buffalo and Vancouver.

We’ll see what happens in Montreal.

It may be Kassian’s last chance.