Minnesota Wild: Could there be interest in Zack Kassian?

ST. PAUL, MN - APRIL 2: Zack Kassian #44 of the Edmonton Oilers skates with the puck while Charlie Coyle #3 of the Minnesota Wild defends during the game at the Xcel Energy Center on April 2, 2018 in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - APRIL 2: Zack Kassian #44 of the Edmonton Oilers skates with the puck while Charlie Coyle #3 of the Minnesota Wild defends during the game at the Xcel Energy Center on April 2, 2018 in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Edmonton Oilers have granted permission to the agent of Zack Kassian to speak with other teams regarding trade interest. Could the Minnesota Wild have interest in bringing in a grinder like Kassian?

The Minnesota Wild under GM Paul Fenton have shown a propensity for bringing in gritty, character guys to fill out the bottom half of the lineup. With Zack Kassian of the Edmonton Oilers being linked to trade rumors, could the Wild be a player in those discussions?

Kassian is an interesting player to evaluate, given that he has been a part of 4 different teams in only 7 seasons in the NHL. He has not lived up to the expectations as a former 1st round, 13th overall, draft pick, which may account for his movement around the league.

Despite not living up to the hype of being a high draft pick, he has found a bottom 6 niche in the NHL similar to current Minnesota Wild forward Eric Fehr.

The obviously unimportant, yet interesting, fact of this whole discussion is that Zack would not be the first Kassian to pull on a Wild sweater. Matt Kassian dressed in 28 games for the Minnesota Wild from 2010-2012, playing mostly as a heavy hitter and fighter on the 4th line.

Zack is a similar style player, with a slightly smaller build and better offensive ability. He’s a hard-nosed checker, who will fight for pucks in corners, he will fight for space in front of the net, and will fight to stand up for his teammates when it’s needed of him.

Minnesota Wild
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Minnesota Wild

His defensive and physical games are viewed in Edmonton as being similar to that of current Wild (and former Oiler) Matt Hendricks. His offensive output, though, is much better than Hendricks has ever produced.

Kassian has produced more than 15 points, and 7 or more goals, in 4 of his past 5 NHL seasons. The 5th of those seasons, was shortened due to a league suspension for a DUI and then being placed on waivers by the Montreal Canadiens before being sent to Edmonton.

Since his return from his suspension, and an NHL-sanctioned Substance Recovery Program, he has been a reliable player for 2 full seasons with the Edmonton Oilers. He has played more than 70 games in each year, and was an important part of their 2016-17 playoff run.

Kassian recorded 3 goals in 13 games during the playoffs, while averaging more than 13 minutes per game. His highest Time on Ice numbers of his career.

For the Minnesota Wild, Kassian would be filling a 4th line Right Wing spot which has been much contested throughout training camp and the early season.

J.T. Brown appears to be holding favor with the coaching staff for now, despite a rough start to the season. He scored his first goal last week, but has been an underwhelming player to watch throughout the month of October. Brown’s career offensive stats don’t read very strong, either, having only broken 5 goals in a season twice in his seven-year career.

Matt Hendricks has caught the eyes of the Wild fans, earning respect for his gritty and hardworking play style. Hendricks is on the wrong side of 30, though, and should not be relied on as an every game player.

Boudreau appears to have faith in his former Washington Capital, but that faith is misguided on a team like the Minnesota Wild who require youth and speed over grit and experience.

Oilers fans loved Hendricks when he was in Edmonton, but his time with the Oilers appears to have passed. He should stay with the Wild as a secondary option when a more physical lineup is required.

JT Brown could be worth a look to Edmonton, but given his career numbers he would need to be packaged together with another player for the value to even out. Last month I looked at the Wild’s roster of right hand defensemen, and if the Oilers would be interested. Perhaps a package of Brown and a defender for Kassian could spark the Oilers interest.

The most interesting option, and the most unlikely, would be making a much bigger deal with Peter Chiarelli and the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers roster of right wings is very young currently, and they could benefit greatly from adding a reliable winger to lineup beside superstar Connor McDavid.

Could that mean the Oilers are interested in someone like Nino Niederreiter or Charlie Coyle, and willing to make a much larger deal to bring in a skilled veteran forward with a proven track record? Edmonton are right at the salary cap right now, so this is extremely unlikely and would need to be a big name blockbuster for the dollars to work for both teams.

Zack Kassian has said that he is committed to the Edmonton Oilers and that the trade rumors and permission being granted was on his agent, and not requested at all by himself. Reports suggest this was because Kassian has been benched a few times already this year, and his agent may be looking for consistent playing time.

Next. J.T. Brown scores first goal with Wild. dark

I doubt a move can be found that will work for both Edmonton and the Minnesota Wild, but Kassian would be a major upgrade over Hendricks and Brown on the 4th line. Someone definitely worth a phone call for GM Fenton.