Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
On this day in 2015, the Oilers acquire Zack Kassian from the Canadiens
2 months ago
On this day in 2015, the Edmonton Oilers acquired forward Zack Kassian from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for goaltender Ben Scrivens.
For Kassian, the 25-year-old forward, being traded to the Oilers wasn’t just an opportunity to play for a new city but a second chance to play in the NHL. Just three months before the trade, Kassian was involved in a motor vehicle accident in which he was under the influence of alcohol and other substances, resulting in the decision to enter the player into the NHL’s substance abuse program.
For Kassian, then 25, being traded to the Oilers wasn’t just an opportunity to play for a new city but a second chance to play in the NHL. Just three months before the trade, Kassian was involved in a motor vehicle accident in which he was under the influence, resulting in the decision to enter the player into the NHL’s substance abuse program.
“Three months ago, if you would have told me I had another shot at the NHL, I wouldn’t have been so sure; a lot of things were uncertain,” Kassian told the Edmonton Sun’s Robert Tychkowski.
“I’ve had a lot of time to get a solid foundation down, and I feel good heading into the hockey world now. Hockey is a second nature to me. I know I can play, it’s just a matter of staying on track.”
“I’m just looking to get back and play the game I love,” Kassian added. “There’s been a lot of things that have happened in the last three months and it’s been a whirlwind to get to where I am right now and get the opportunity. I feel blessed.”
Kassian would start his time with the organization down in the AHL with the Bakersfield Condors, which Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli believed is where he could get up and running and leave the rest of the season up to Kassian to decide.
“He has a checkered past with substance abuse.. but he’s the type of player who would help us at his prime,” said Chiarelli. “There are risks attached to it, but I talked with Zack, and I talked with the doctors in the programs, and I feel satisfied completing this transaction.”
Kassian played 38 games for the Oilers that season, recording three goals and eight points. The following season delivered more promise, and Kassian recorded eight goals and 25 points, the best season since 2013-14 with the Vancouver Canucks.
As his time with the Oilers unfolded, Kassian became known on the Oilers for his physical capabilities. He displayed the qualities of a true enforcer, never backing down from a fight.
One of his most memorable times with the Oilers was when he and former Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk reignited the rivalry between the two teams through an on-ice scrum that heightened the discontent between the two teams.
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His best season came during the 2019-20 campaign when he recorded 15 goals and 34 points, which resulted in the best year in terms of production in his entire career.
Unfortunately, in 2022, Kassian’s production and ice time drastically dropped. His cap hit also started to weigh on the organization, leading them to trade the forward to the Arizona Coyotes during the 2022 NHL draft to acquire a first-round selection that year.
After a single season and two goals later, Kassian was released by the Coyotes, only to sign a professional tryout with the Anaheim Ducks a few months later.
After being released by the Ducks in October 2023, Kassian opted to hang up the skates and retired on December 26th, 2023.
Kassian was originally the 13th overall selection in the 2009 NHL draft to the Buffalo Sabres, where he would spend 27 games in 2011-12, scoring three goals and seven points before being traded to the Canucks. After four years on Canada’s West Coast, he was traded to the Canadiens in July of 2015, ultimately resulting in his tenure with the Oilers. Kassian scored 55 goals and 135 points with the Oilers across 412 games, which added to his 12 years in the NHL, where he scored 92 goals and 203 points.
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