Benning and Linden re-sign Zack Kassian, have no respect for regular work hours

Rumours had been cropping up since Wednesday that the Canucks and Zack Kassian were close to agreeing on a deal, but when Thursday afternoon passed without a contract signed, it looked like the deal wouldn’t get done until Friday.

Instead, as the regular 9-to-5 stiffs headed home from work, Benning and Linden powered through, blowing through naptime, and getting a deal done by the early evening. If it wasn’t for the always alert Elliott Pap, who scoffs at the idea of going home at 5 PM, we wouldn’t have had to wait upwards of 12 hours to find out about Kassian’s new contract.

 

Kassian is just coming off his entry-level contract and a two-year deal means he will still be a restricted free agent when it ends. The short-term contract gives him an opportunity to prove to the Canucks that he’s worth a great deal more money for more years when it’s time to sign his next contract.

He’ll likely have plenty of chances to do so in the coming season, as he’ll be playing under a new head coach who has worked well with young players for over a decade and under the watchful eye of a new GM who, judging by his first entry draft, loves players with size.

With the signing of Radim Vrbata, the chances of Kassian skating with the Sedins next season have grown a little slimmer, if you’ll forgive the oxymoron. The cagey, skilled Vrbata has the finishing touch around the net necessary to play with the twins, while Kassian is more of a playmaker than goalscorer. It seems likely that Vrbata will also get first dibs on the top power play unit, given his effectiveness with the man advantage in the past.

Kassian’s real opportunity will come on the second line, which lacks both an identity and, to be honest, bona fide second line players after the Ryan Kesler trade. For all Benning’s talk of Nick Bonino being a second line centre, there’s a reason the Anaheim Ducks felt the need to acquire an actual second line centre in Kesler.

Over the last two seasons, Kassian didn’t get long looks on the second line, despite the possibility of him being the playmaking winger that a shoot-first centre like Kesler needed. There were a couple barriers, one of which was his defensive play, which wasn’t up the quality needed to face tough competition like Kesler did on a regular basis.

The other was that both Kesler and Kassian liked to carry the puck on zone exits and entries and, until the NHL finally breaks down and introduces Multi-Puck in 2064, only one player can have the puck at any given time.

With Kesler gone, the opportunity is there for Kassian to give the second line a bit of his own personality and step up into a more permanent role in the top-six. That may be a lot to ask someone coming off a career year where they scored just 14 goals and 29 points, but the way he ended the season — scoring 10 points in 10 games — indicated he might be ready for a breakout season.

Reaction from fans on Twitter suggested that this was a steal of a deal for the Canucks, but that seems reflective more of misplaced expectations, with many seeming to think that Kassian would get well over $2 million with this contract. When I looked at comparable players over the last 10 years, the general range of contracts was between $1.0 and $1.2 million, suggesting that his new $1.75 million contract may actually be an overpayment.

When you take into account the rising salary cap, however, the new deal is easier to swallow as it takes up an equivalent percentage of the cap as a $1.4 million in 2008-09, as pointed out by regular commenter and part-time troll, mb13. That makes this contract equal to the contract Clarke MacArthur received as a 23-year-old in 2009, though MacArthur’s was for just one year. MacArthur’s 17 goals and 31 points in the previous season are not far off from Kassian’s 14 goals and 29 points.

All told, this seems to be fair value for Kassian and gives the Canucks a potential second-line winger on a very cheap contract for the next two seasons. Even if he remains a third-liner, this is still very good value.

RFAs Chris Tanev, Yannick Weber, and Linden Vey have yet to sign.

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10 comments

  1. Ty-Rich
    July 4, 2014

    Kiss our ass. “No respect for regular work hours”
    They watch hockey and talk to other GM’s and agents. Some tough life.

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    Rating: -36 (from 36 votes)
    • bcward@sfu.ca
      July 4, 2014

      Chill Ty,

      It is a joke. That is what this site is about. The humour, with a generous dollop of hockey on the side.

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      Rating: +33 (from 33 votes)
    • Naturalmystic
      July 4, 2014

      I don’t know why a player wanna hate T
      I didn’t choose the game, the game chose me

      - ICE-T

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      Rating: +7 (from 7 votes)
  2. JeremyOK
    July 4, 2014

    In that May post, you predicted $1-1.2 million, and I thought closer to $2 million based on a slightly different list of comparables, with the fear that it could go higher (just because some contracts have to be the outliers). $1.75 million seems fair, and the term (still RFA at the end of it) is great. It looks like a bargain because we’ve just come through silly-season, where UFAs are almost universally overpaid. This one illustrates (yet again) how important it is to have good young players on cheap contracts.

    And although Kassian is likely to be labeled “inconsistent” and not producing as many points as fans expect, a sensible contract like this improves the odds of him being given a fair chance and more reasonable expectations. Here’s hoping he can do great things with the chance.

    On the topic of expectations, which past Canucks might be considered realistic comparables when we project Kassian into the future? Fans often seem to overvalue prospects and think every young power forward will be Bertuzzi in his prime, but honestly, I think names like Scatchard, Torres and Momesso might be more in the ballpark.

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  3. chrìs
    July 4, 2014

    i like dollar amount, im not excited about the term though, but the only reason i dont like term is if kassian keeps projecting up we’re going to be on the hook for a big raise when this contract is done. hopefully that happens, but i would of like to seen three years

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    • RobG
      July 4, 2014

      Two years is the perfect length of contract between the Canucks and Kassian. because at the end of it he will still be a restricted free agent and the Canucks will not only still control his rights but they will be required to qualify him at only 1.75M. If the contract were three years in length, Kassian would be an unrestricted free agent and be free to hit the open market and the Canucks would risk losing him for nothing.

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  4. akidd
    July 4, 2014

    good signing! pretty good deal for the canucks, i think. both sides really. i really like the term. gives kassian some incentive to earn a bigger contract next time. well done.

    in some ways it’s too bad the western conference is so strong because it feels like the canucks are putting together a pretty decent team this year. what a crazy imbalance of conferences when you think about it. and the west keeps getting stronger. gotta hand it to western teams and management. some solid team-building.

    i’m looking forward to seeing kassian take those next steps. he’s got all the tools and sees the ice great. if he’s put in a spot where he gets more opportunity i think it will be easier for him to become a more consistent contributor. can just hope that he can rein in his inner dumbass. hopefully desjardin can provide some very necessary guidance on that front.

    interesting that benning thinks the 2nd-line spot will be a competition between hansen and kassian. i think that if you want your second line to score goals then you gotta give the spot to kassian. but i like that management sees the value of hansen. he had one bad season and that was a result, i believe, of his injury and coaching. i fully expect him to come back and have a great season this year.

    yup, not a bad team at all. legit 1st, 3rd and 4th lines and some possibilities on the 2nd line too. it’ll all come down to the centre. it would be great to see bonino, vey or horvat step up and surprise us all.

    while i don’t agree with everything benning has done, or how he has done it, i gotta say that on paper he’s put together a better team than i thought possible at the end of last year. and it’s been great to see all that static energy of the gillis years get a release. the wheels are definitely turning. benning certainly doesn’t get caught up in the obsessive details like gillis did. very refreshing to see things flow a little freer.

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  5. akidd
    July 4, 2014

    and i’m really looking forward to not seeing david booth in a canuck uniform. that important ‘addition through subtraction’ should reap an instant benefit to the cohesion and offensive threat of the 2nd and/or 3rd lines. telling but not surprising that so far no team has swooped down to snatch up that former 30-goal scorer.

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    • John in Marpole
      July 6, 2014

      Amen, brother.

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  6. BBoone
    July 5, 2014

    Coach Willie is clearly the big wild card factor in how he develops the “new” Canuck team from the Sedins , Edler and other key veterans, thru Zack, Linden Vey and the draft prospects It will be interesting in particular to watch how Zack K is coached and how he responds. Those of us think he has not been coached all that well the last couple of years will definitely be looking on with interest.

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