Zack Kassian Doing Big Things In Final Junior Season
In what is surely his final season in the CHL’s Ontario Hockey League, Zack Kassian is playing like a man possessed to ensure making the Canadian under-20 national team that will take the ice in his future home barn of HSBC Arena in the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championships.
Missing the first few games of the OHL season due to extended preseason action in Buffalo, Kassian was already at a disadvantage in the scoring race. But after two dozen games played for the Windsor Spitfires, he’s challenging for the league lead.
Already he’s scored 15 goals, which outpaced his 09/10 campaign which was shortened by suspension and is on track to dwarf his previous career high of 24 goals in 61 games played in 08/09. His 30 assists is only 9 shy of his previous high set also in the 08/09 season, which has him on pace to absolutely stomp his previous best marks. For the record, his highs in that 08/09 season were 24 goals and 39 assists for 63 points in 61 games played. In the 10/11 campaign, he’s chugging toward 39 goals and 83 assists for 122 points in 64 games played. That would nearly double his highest output.
Something surprising is how little he’s had to toss knucks this season. As the OHL’s heavyweight champion coming in, Kassian has let his scoring speak for itself instead. With only 35 penalty minutes through his 24 games played, he’s on pace for a (relatively) paltry 93 penalty minutes. However, what fights the big man has gotten into have been decisive victories that help retain his title belt.
After some speculation came out revolving around Windsor general manager Warren Rychel possibly trading away Kassian and his superstar defenseman captain Ryan Ellis, it’s possible that both players are showcasing their talents to bring in a massive compensation package. Rychel is optimistic that both players could bring in an 11-piece return.
Regardless of where BZK (Bad Zack Kassian, a nickname I gave him when he was drafted) ends his junior hockey career, it’s almost a lock that he’ll be getting top six minutes with his countrymen in Buffalo and it’s certain that at the very least he’ll be suiting up in Portland red, black, and white to start 11/12. He very well may just wind up wearing the blue and gold if he has a prolific-enough camp.