2011-2012 Buffalo Sabres Report Cards: Zack Kassian

Feb 21, 2012; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres right wing Zack Kassian (54) during the game against the New York Islanders at the First Niagara Center. Sabres beat the Islanders 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

With the 2011-12 Buffalo Sabres ending in disappointment and after a few weeks for us to gather our thoughts, it's time for us to issue our report cards on the season. Over the next few weeks, we'll grade every player that wore a Buffalo Sabres uniform in 2011 and 2012, from Luke Adam to Mike Weber.


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2011 - Zack Kassian 44 4 6 10 -2 51 0 0 0 54 7.4

Introduction: Much like Batman, Zack Kassian became an idea that transcended the man himself in the minds of many Sabres fans. A first round pick with big size, the toughness of a Russian bear, and scoring touch to boot? Sign me up!

Unlike Batman, however, Kassian never quite lived up to the idea of himself here in Buffalo. While he certainly laid out some impressive hits as a Sabre, he never really seemed to enjoy using his physicality, and didn't seem to be the aggressive pinball on the ice that the Sabres drafted. After being traded to Vancouver at the deadline, many Sabre fans moaned and groaned about how the team would never recover from losing Kassian's unique blend of size and scoring, or at least the idea of what his size and scoring might someday become. Whether Papa Kass will grow into the Milan Lucic 2.0 that Sabres and Canucks fans wanted still remains to be seen, but let's examine his first NHL season after the break.

Key Stat: But wait, you say! You said Kassian didn't live up to the physical side of his hype, yet he had 79 hits in 44 games - that works out to almost 150 per season! While it's true that he managed to amass some fine numbers in the hit department, 24 of those 79 hits came in just his first 3 games each with the Sabres and Vancouver. If you take out his amped-up audition games, Kassian was on pace for about 110 hits in a full 82 games season. Still nice numbers, but nowhere near the 200+ that a guy like Milan Lucic (or any of the other top hitters) puts up annually.

Thumbs Up: Kassian has better hands than advertised; he did score 4 goals and made some nifty passes along the way. He is incredible at puck control down low - when he stuck that big rear end out it was almost impossible to separate him from the puck. Despite his lack of enthusiasm for the physical game, he is a very big body and is capable of laying some monster hits. He didn't often fight, but when he did, he made sure the other player wouldn't challenge him again. Had more takeaways than giveaways. Has an adorable smile.

Thumbs Down: For a tough guy, Kassian is a wimp when it comes to blocking shots - he only blocked two all year. He also needs to continue to work on his skating, and specifically his movement without the puck. He's not a fan of travel, scoring only 2 points in 15 games on the road. Kassian was also a bit undisciplined as far as taking penalties goes (though he wasn't too bad) and was about league average at drawing them. Doesn't play the PK.

Voting: On a scale of one to ten, one being the lowest and ten being the highest, grade Zack Kassian on his season according to the expectations you had for him. If he met them, give him a five or a six. If he eclipsed them, aim for a seven or beyond. If he failed to meet them, give him a lower number relating to how poorly he missed the target.

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