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Written by Dani Toth | 28 February 2012

Sometimes to get to know what kind of player you are getting it's best to ask the people that knew him best, the bloggers of his former team.

Next up in the blogger opinions on Zack Kassian, is Philip of Black & Blue & Gold for his thoughts on Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani. You can follow him on twitter at @PhilBBG

"First of all, it's pronounced "Kass-e-in".

Zack Kassian was the Sabres pick in the 2009 draft, taken 13th overall. At the time, he was the sometimes-scoring, often-punching captain of the Petersborough Petes. It was for this reason that the Sabres drafted the big winger. The spring after he was drafted, he was traded from the Petes to the Windsor Spitfires to boost their jam in the top six. His first game in Spits red, he laid out his infamous missile check to the head that earned him a 20 game suspension. Once he got back on the ice, he was a force along the boards and helped chip in offensively as Windsor won their second straight Memorial Cup. His final season in junior, Kassian was a scoring juggernaut and the undisputed heavyweight champ of the OHL before the WJC in Buffalo. In the tournament at then-HSBC Arena, he played the role of human wrecking ball alongside future Amerks teammate Marcus Foligno. Fans and media alike were impressed by his powerful hitting and offensive instincts.

His play petered off after the WJC tournament, both offensively and aggressively. Critics noticed, but a strong showing in the Traverse City prospect tournament brightened fans on his future. He certainly got his offensive game back in Rochester, but the toughness seldom showed up. He struggled to play consistently when called up by the Sabres as well.

Consistency has been the only real knock on the winger. Kassian is a big boy, capable of fending off multiple defenders with a single arm (it's really impressive how strong he is) and claiming territory on top of the crease. How often he does is another story. He doesn't have the best wheels but is hard to stop when he gets rolling. He doesn't have the best shot, but has shown off "silky mitts" more than once. He can own the ice but rarely challenges for it. e can punch, too. Holy jumpin', can he punch. Just look him up on Hockey Fights. NHL scouts and local pundits question his motivation and heart. If he finds the drive to go hard every game, he's a productive second liner who can score 20 goals, control play along the boards, and defend his linemates. If he doesn't, he could wind-up a 4th line goon with some offense to spare. Is he NHL ready this season? No - he's barely an AHL rookie, much less NHL rookie.

Marc-Andre Gragnani isn't so promising. An offensive defenseman, MAG (or Grags) is a guy whose defensive play was wretched enough that he didn't even dress every night and when he did, he was given bottom pair minutes and scant power play time. Alain Vigneault coached him in the QMJHL, which is why the Canucks might have wanted him, but otherwise he won't be an impact pick-up anytime soon unless something dramatic happens to him. With the depth in Vancouver, he might wind up on the Chicago Wolves' roster. "

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So there we have it, though I feel like I've come out of this question feeling less sure of Kassian helping the team this post season than before I started asking questions about him. At least I know how to pronounce his name correctly.

Big thanks to Philip for answering my questions on our new acquisitions so quickly. Give his site Black & Blue & Gold a visit and follow him on twitter at @PhilBBG
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Written by Dani Toth | 28 February 2012

When describing Zack Kassian I have read a lot of articles on him being Milan Lucic-like, huge or nasty. But sometimes to get to know what kind of player you are getting it's best to ask the people that knew him best, the bloggers of his former team.

I've enlisted the help of Joey Pinzone from Buffalo Wins for his thoughts on Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani

1. Describe Zach Kassian's style of play.

Joey: Kassian was suppose to be the Sabres version of Milan Lucic. He's a big power forward with a really nice shot. Now I want to make something clear, Zack Kassian wasn't even suppose to play in the NHL this year.

Last year, he'd played in the OHL and for the Canadian World Juniors. Normally, the Sabres would have their first round picks play for at least 1-2 years in the AHL before they get brought up. This was suppose to be the year that Kassian got his taste of The AHL and maybe within a year or two, he'd be up with the Sabres.

Unfortunately, the Sabres were hit heavily with injuries this past year and had recalled like 6 players at one point from the minor league. Kassian was one of those guys. At first, he played alright. He got a goal, an assist and a fight in his first three games. But like with most rookies who haven't played in the AHL, he started to play sloppy. At times he looked like he was coasting and wasn't physically involved like we had all hoped he would. Once the Sabres got healthy, they sent him back down. It didn't last long until as the Sabres recalled him a month later. Again, he's a young player. I don't think he will be a ready made NHL player until next year or at least 2014. So, I know TSN has been going crazy about him and how he will add toughness, but we didn't really see that this year.

2. Is he close to NHL ready? How big of a gamble is it going to play him in the NHL?

I think fans have to be patient with him. There were people in Buffalo who had been begging him to come up from the minor league system and become a tough guy for almost 15 months. If the Sabres were physically outmatched in a game, people would beg for Kassian to be called up. It was ridiculous. Again, he's a young guy and realistically, it takes 2-3 years to really become an NHL player.

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Written by Dani Toth | 28 February 2012

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Hodgson was never the answer to our 3rd line center question but it still hurts to see him traded away.

I've been waffling on whether I like or dislike this trade. Sometimes it's easy to feel one way or the other, but with this one I just don't know. Obviously during the past two seasons I've come to love the little Liev Schreiber look-alike. I've adopted his nickname Coho and even when saying his last name, finally made myself say 'Hod-son'. And now he's gone.

Our prized little 3rd line center, is now a Buffalo Sabre? Like a slap in the face that trade was.

I was stunned by the trade. Stunned. I had prepared myself that it might be Hodgson for Ott, but not this Kassian fellow that is coming our way.

Who is Zack Kassian? I'm not even sure how to pronounce his last name yet.

He has been called the Sabres version of Milan Lucic. He's supposed to be a big, tough power forward that is supposed to give the Canucks the grit that we lacked during the SCF last year. From what I've read of him he might be what the Canucks are looking for in like a year, but is he NHL ready? I've asked a Sabres blogger that question and I'll post their take on it tomorrow, but right now that is the question I am asking of this trade.

What went wrong last year is due to not one factor but a culmination of many. The two factors to me that were our biggest issues were the lack of secondary scoring and our injured defence. Injuries on defence are hard to predict and so far, Sami Salo is still in one piece. But the move in trading away Hodgson seems so backwards to me right now. Hodgson has scored some goals in recent months when the top two lines haven't been able to do that. His play on the 2nd PP unit has made that unit much more effective than in previous months. And I've really just grown to like the little one.

But back to that issue of secondary scoring: What will happen when the Sedins and Kesler can't score? I just don't feel confident that trading him away was the right move now. I feel that this trade or a trade like it would have happened eventually since there are only so many 1st and 2nd line center positions to go around in Vancouver and Henrik or Kesler isn't going anywhere fast, but is Kassian the best option for the team now?

Here is what Gillis says about him:

”There’s not much not to like,” said Gillis. “He’s 6-4 and 225 and he just turned 21 a month ago. He put up almost a point a game numbers in the American League, so for a player who is that physical who can do that, it’s a rare opportunity that you get the chance to get a player like that.”

Let me emphasize that the point a game numbers is in the AHL.

Ok. I'll stop with the venting. There's a reason why I'm not a GM and only a blogger. What's done is done and there's no sense in bitching for the rest of the season about this trade. I haven't even seen Kassian play yet, so like the leeway we gave Hodgson, I'll try to do the same for Kassian. But right now, I'm still a little stunned from this trade. no comments

Written by Dani Toth | 20 February 2012

I missed this on Saturday night because I was busy fussing around getting my game meal ready but this is a really touching interview that Elliotte Friedman did for HNIC's Inside Hockey segment with Wes Rypien, Rick Rypien's brother.



Let's not stop promoting the website that lives on in his legacy, visit mindcheck.ca if you haven't ever done so. no comments

Written by Dani Toth | 17 February 2012

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Via Aaron Portzline this afternoon, it is believed that Rick Nash has Vancouver as one of his team's on his list that he would waive his no trade clause for. The others are Boston, LA, New York Rangers, San Jose and Toronto.

Vancouver being on his list is not unexpected, but I wouldn't suggest you read that much into this putting us really in the running for him. We're on the list because we're a competitive team that Nash wouldn't mind being traded to. That's really all there is to it at this stage in the game. A similar argument could be made for the other teams on his projected list, or if not currently competitive they are a major market team that has the potential to be competitive.

So relax, his giant ass contract most likely has scared away Gillis from a potential trade that would ruin the team chemistry made this far into the season. But at the same time you have to expect that Gillis will look into what Howson wants for him. Doesn't mean that the Canucks would have to trade for him but Gillis still has to do his due diligence in looking into what it would cost to get such a potentially great winger. He would be foolish to not. Though it would seem very out of character for Gillis to make this large of a trade at the trade deadline. This seems more like a trade that GMMG would make in the off season if the Canucks royally screw up in the playoffs. no comments

Written by Dani Toth | 03 February 2012

This is the Canadian version of the Budweiser commercial that will air this weekend. Even if you've never played rec hockey, it brings out all the warm and fuzzies after watching this:


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Written by Dani Toth | 03 February 2012

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The Canucks has no business winning this game tonight. Their first and second period was all Detroit, the only reason they were still in it going into the third period was because of Luongo. Bitch all you want about him losing the shootout, but we wouldn't be in the overtime or the shootout if Luongo hasn't been huge tonight.

Question we are all asking ourselves: why was Mason Raymond in the shootout?

God I hate to play Detroit. They are just so damn good.

A bring spot for the Canucks were the two Michigan born players playing great tonight.

But how about Sam Gagner? Ridic.

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