EDMONTON, AB – It was a slow-burning ’20-21 NHL season for ahead Zack Kassian that ended with a spark within the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
That spark, a quick style of particular person success in opposition to the Winnipeg Jets throughout the Oilers brief four-game playoff run, smoldered over an extended offseason to assist the 30-year-old get again on observe and return to Edmonton for Coaching Camp as a participant eager to show the web page on what was a difficult season.
The postseason-bred Kassian battled a pair of accidents throughout the common season that made it tough adjusting to the shortened 56-match marketing campaign, spending respective stints of 17 video games (Feb. 9 – Mar. 15) and 12 video games (Apr. 26 – Might 19) on the sidelines in a season the place the Windsor, Ont. product posted two objectives and three assists in 27 video games.
“I do not suppose it is any secret on the market that it was a tricky 12 months for me personally,” Kassian, talking with Bob Stauffer and 630CHED’s Oilers Now, stated Monday. “It is the toughest league to play in arms down while you’re wholesome, not to mention injured a couple of occasions. It is robust to get traction… you are not acquainted with any linemates, you are sort of overwhelmed attempting to do all the pieces in a single shift that you ought to be doing all through the course of the night, so final 12 months was actually irritating.”
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Kassian returned to the lineup in time for Recreation 1 in opposition to Winnipeg, enjoying his greatest hockey of the season when it mattered with a purpose and help in 4 video games throughout what was a quick return to normalcy earlier than an extended offseason for the 6-foot-3, 211-pound energy ahead.
“What I can say is that I feel I got here again from that final harm within the playoffs and I performed like myself. I had a step in the suitable route going into the summer time,” he stated. “I feel I performed the best way I might, performed the best way the staff wished me to play, and I feel on the finish of the day I put in a variety of work this summer time.
“My physique feels good, all the pieces feels good, so we wish to hit the bottom operating proper from Coaching Camp. It is essential, so I am wanting ahead to the season.”
Kassian is among the returning Oilers ahead forged that can be bolstered by a variety of optimistic additions up entrance that embody Zach Hyman, Warren Foegele, and Derek Ryan – every of which bringing their very own distinctive skillsets that can deliver added depth and competitors to the membership.
“It is large,” Kassian stated. “Ken [Holland] has had a tricky job to do clearly with the flat cap, however while you usher in guys like that, all of them deliver one thing to the staff that on the finish of the day helps us win.”
“All these guys are going to assist us and hopefully attempt to get higher because the season progresses to assist get us into the playoffs. Then from there, you by no means know what is going on to occur.”
Video: [email protected], Gm3: Kassian finishes off a Draisaitl feed
Mixed with defensive acquisitions within the likes of Duncan Keith and Cody Ceci, together with the maturation of essential prospects in Jesse Puljujarvi and Evan Bouchard, Kassian believes there is a sturdy sense of confidence throughout the group that can take to Rogers Place for the beginning of Coaching Camp subsequent week.
“We’re a staff that is made a variety of modifications, however I feel in the end we’re a bunch of people that thinks there’s extra within the tank,” he stated. “I feel that is recipe to have going into the season, particularly going right into a Coaching Camp.”
As a fan favorite who often feeds off the power of Oil Nation, one of many greatest returns to normalcy for Kassian will come within the return of followers to NHL arenas after a year-and-a-half with out spectators in seats.
It’s, quintessentially, what makes the League so nice.
“It sucked with no followers. It wasn’t the NHL,” he stated. “You exit for warmup and you have got followers across the glass, the music’s pumping, the glass is shaking, and you are feeling the power within the constructing. To not have that was very odd, however clearly on the finish of the day the puck drops and also you attempt to play by it.
“I feel you’ll be able to inform already there’s an added pleasure for the 12 months with some normality getting our followers again within the constructing and occurring the street and getting some boo’s. That to me is hockey, the place you get the goosebumps and get the adrenaline. It is enjoyable to play in away barns, it is enjoyable to play in residence barns, so followers are an enormous a part of hockey.”