Four games into his Oilers career, winger Zack Kassian is settling in with his new squad and starting to produce.
Kassian, acquired from Montreal in exchange for goalie Ben Scrivens on Dec. 28, scored his first points with the Oilers on Tuesday night during their 6-4 road loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The 6-foot-3, 213-pound power forward battled his way to the net and banged home a rebound from a shot by Iiro Pakarinen for Edmonton’s first goal of the game. Kassian then picked up the second assist on Leon Draisaitl’s third-period tally, as he passed the puck to Taylor Hall in the neutral zone before Hall fed Draisaitl on a two-on-one rush.
While Kassian would have rather had his first Oilers points come in a victory, he was pleased to get on the scoresheet.
“It’s always nice to get the first one out of the way, but it feels a lot better when you come back in with a win,” he said post-game. “Personally, it feels good. Obviously, I’ve been through a lot, but my main goal now is to just try to get wins.”
“Been through a lot” was a reference to his rocky start to the season, as he was acquired by the Canadiens from Vancouver in exchange for Brandon Prust on July 1, but never ended up playing for the Habs. Kassian entered the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program after he was involved in a motor vehicle collision in October.
He’s embraced his fresh start with the Oilers, averaging between 14:23 and 16:07 TOI in his four games, accumulating 18 hits and eight SOG.
“I feel good,” Kassian said. “It’s just a matter of making smart plays and continuing to do what I’m doing.”
The Oilers coaches have noticed him getting more comfortable, and they’re quickly seeing his value in their lineup.
“Zack’s a pretty honest player,” Todd McLellan said. “He wants to do things well. He wants to do things right. His ability to power his way through and play physical is important. It was nice to see him get rewarded with a goal… As time goes on here, I can see myself and the coaching staff trusting him more and more.”