Just recently, a report surfaced that Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian had requested permission to seek a trade in order to get back into game action. The Oilers have scratched Kassian several times this season, and has seen his ice time dropped significantly even when he is in the lineup. Today, Kassian wanted to clarify what exactly happened and told Ryan Rishaug of TSN that he didn’t directly ask for a trade. Instead, his agent spoke with the Oilers front office about potential interest from other teams, but Kassian has told teammates he wants to stay with them if possible.
Kassian got back into the lineup on Sunday night and scored his first goal of the season, though he was still given fewer than 10 minutes of ice time. The 27-year old forward is in the second of a three-year contract that carries a $1.95MM cap hit.
There’s certainly reason to want to be a part of the Oilers right now as they work on their three game winning streak and charge forward towards a return to the playoffs, but Kassian doesn’t appear to have a big part in that. Even as he struggled to find a permanent fit in Buffalo and Vancouver he never averaged such little time on ice, and now in Edmonton there is still the looming shadow of Jesse Puljujarvi who is trying to fight his way back into the lineup. Without much chance at an increased role there’s plenty of reason that Kassian’s agent would be poking around the league to see if there was interest in his client. His physical style and previous results—Kassian was once a 14-goal forward for the Canucks—could be intriguing to teams that need to add some grit to their bottom six.
The Oilers meanwhile are still in a tricky cap situation even with the added flexibility from Andrej Sekera’s long-term injury status, and could use the relief provided by a Kassian trade. They’re obviously not desperate, but if there is real interest from around the league and they don’t plan on increasing his role any time soon, they would need to at least consider it.
For now, it seems as though Kassian is happy to be with the team and fight for a return to the playoffs, but would like to see a more consistent role on the roster. If there is a return to the press box in the next few games, you can be sure there will be more smoke coming out of Edmonton.