Having landed the centre they’ve needed to get their team to think attack — instead of cowering in fear and hoping to score a goal or two — the Vancouver Canucks now pursue a quality forward they hope will play with Ryan Kesler.
According to assistant GM Laurence Gilman, Roy slots in as a third line centre playing with Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen and Kesler will centre the second line when he returns with Mason Raymond (if he’s still here) and one would presume either Zack Kassian or new winger.
If they get a top six winger and Raymond remains, Kassian would then drop to the fourth line where he would labour with Max Lapierre and either Tom Sestito, Steve Pinizzotto or Dale Weise — hardly the best use of a player they hope one day will turn into something in the neighbourhood of Milan Lucic.
Right now Kassian is in Chicago for reasons, which on the surface, certainly puzzle the public. In fact, it’s largely disciplinary given he’s been photographed enjoying himself in some of the local nightspots when he’s supposed to have been nursing an ailing back. But the club doesn’t really want to say so. He’s young and inexperienced in this market — where everything you do is spotted, photographed and dutifully reported.
The Canucks don’t want to talk about it even though they simply want to point out to Kassian that it’s not a God-given right to play in the NHL and that you have to act more than professionally if you want to be part of this organization.
But in order to shield him, they concoct reasons for sending him down which make no sense and call to mind the possibility of a fractured relationship similar to that which came about with Cody Hodgson, although this is completely different. Hodgson saw himself forever behind Henrik Sedin and Kesler and didn’t want to wait whereas there are no such hang-ups with Kassian. But they need to be careful with this relationship nonetheless.
Gilman has been claiming they ‘don’t have the luxury’ of indulging Kassian as he gets back into form after his injury. But in Bill Sweatt, Pinizzotto, Sestito, Andrew Ebbett and perhaps others, they dressed forwards last night in San Jose who on their best nights can’t bring to the table what this guy can. So that explanation is just downright goofy. And just exactly what is Kassian going to learn in Chicago given the organization doesn’t really have any of their prospects down there right now other than Jordan Schroeder — who was dispatched to the Wolves Tuesday — is open to question.
So stating they wanted him to play big minutes and get his confidence back didn’t make a whole lot of sense either. He’s slated to be back after the weekend games, if he plays well, and hopefully Kesler is back by then and he gets plugged into a meaningful situation whereby he can make a contribution.
He’s exactly what they need now given his size, with Roy not the biggest player in the league and many of their other wingers at present not very big. While Kassian has the responsibility to minimize his mistakes, coach Alain Vigneault has to learn to live with them the same way he lives with Alex Edler’s endless stream of turnovers because dispatching him to the fourth line the moment he makes a mistake marginalizes a significant talent and does nothing for his confidence.
“We’ve had lots of experience at dealing with young players like this and that’s just it, he’s young,” says GM Mike Gillis. “Think back to when you were 21-years-old and imagine what you’d be like in his situation. This is a totally different situation than was the case with Cody. Zack’s going to be a very good player for us.”
Kesler, who should return should return within 10 days, and Roy give this team a double dose of offensive vitamins which should re-vitalize every cell in this team’s DNA.
“We had to get the defensive focus of the Sedins and we think this should help,” says Gillis. “We’d like to do more still but we’ll have to see how it works out.”