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MAIN CAMP: Kassian planning to use unique skillset to Oilers benefit

"The more time you spend in the league, you really get to know who you are and I honestly see myself as a guy who can play anywhere," Forward Zack Kassian said

by Jamie Umbach /

EDMONTON, AB - Forward Zack Kassian has always viewed himself as a player with plenty of versatility.

"I think I'm a unique player," Kassian said, speaking to the media during Thursday's onset of Oilers Training Camp. "The more time you spend in the league, you really get to know who you are and I honestly see myself as a guy who can play anywhere."

During the off-season, he wasn't about to let an extended stint on the top line last campaign alongside Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid alter his expectations when training or his expectation of seeing improvement throughout the lineup in '19-20.

"To be honest, I went about my summer like I always do," Kassian said. "I've always been focused on my speed and fitness, and I think as you get older even though 28 isn't old, you want to maintain and try to be as fast as you can. If you look around the league now, it's all about speed and transition. So I went into the summer trying to improve and trying to maintain everything I've built to this point. I'm coming in healthy and excited to go."

Video: MAIN CAMP | Zack Kassian 09.12.19

The Windsor, Ontario product's 6-foot-3, 211-pound frame has always provided him the ability to fill a sparkplug role in the bottom-six of the Buffalo Sabres, Vancouver Canucks, and Edmonton Oilers during his career - exemplified in his 716 penalty minutes in 466 total NHL games.

An additional pedigree for scoring as a former first-round draft pick, a junior player with his hometown Windsor Spitfires, and as an Oiler coming off a career-high in goals (15) has Kassian prepared to fill any role given to him in the coming season for a new management and coaching staff.

"It's always nice scoring goals, but I think it's always been there for me," he added. "In Vancouver I got a little more offensive chances and did pretty well there, and then I came here and found myself in a bottom-six role which I feel like I can play really well as well.

"Going into camp, if you get paired with top-six guys, you're going to get more offensive looks and chances to have better numbers. But going in, I just want to play the way I can and help the team in any way I can."

Captain Connor McDavid has seen Kassian's utility first-hand as a linemate and hopes to be a benefactor of his carryover in confidence generated in the last 20 games of the season, scoring seven goals.

"He's a guy that does it all," McDavid said. "He skates well, he's physical, he's a former first-round pick so you know he can play offence. I think once he gets that confidence, it's a good thing. You saw what he did last year. He looks good, he's in great shape, he looks good on the ice, and hopefully he can carry it over."

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