When Derek Boogaard left for New York, Wild fans knew there would never be a replacement. Brad Staubitz was brought in to fill the roster spot, to play hockey, and to be the enforcer. Staubitz failed, and failed hard. Thus, Matt Kassian gets his chance, and he took it. He was not out of place on the ice, despite what that hockey "reporter" in Denver might think. Hell, he even scored twice.
That's big time.
Can he keep his job long term? Who knows. For now, the Wild need a hockey player who can fight, and Kassian seems to be that guy.
#28 / Left Wing / Minnesota Wild
Oct 28, 1986
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Nathan - Kassian came up to replace Brad Staubitz as someone who could be a physical presence and fill time on the 4th line. He did so admirably, and even potted a couple of goals. As he matures, he'll learn to accept his role and hopefully continue to evolve as a more well-rounded player in the NHL. I hope to see him on the roster for quite a while, because the kid is marketable, entertaining and has promise.
Bryan - Kassian isn't that impressive, but he has one thing going for him. He isn't Brad Staubitz. Kassian is a likable guy, puts on a good show on Twitter, and seems to be capable of playing hockey while being an enforcer. He also whooped Darcy Hardichuck not once, but twice. Something I'm sure Hordichuk was waiting to do for ten years. Kassian is a good role player, an excellent enforcer, and thus far has no real knocks against him. Also, he finished with just one fewer goals than Tom Gilbert.
Jesse- The only complaint I can think of for Kassian is that he does such a good job of enforcing that no one wants to fight him. Not really something I can fault him for. He also scored his two goals of the season against Montreal, which makes JS happy, so there's that.
It would be nice if Kassian used the offseason to work on getting some softer hands with the puck, because he probably should have scored a few more goals than just two. He did seem to find soft spots on the ice but didn't capitalize enough.
JS- Clear improvement over Staubitz. He would deserve an A+ just for that fact. Better fighter, better all-around player, more interesting and scarier to the opposition. He's no Derek Boogaard, but he's a much more worthy replacement than Staubitz could ever dream to be. His two goals against Montreal are a double bonus for me: Bonus because he scored and bonus because it was Montreal. His actual hockey skills seemed to improve with each and every game too, so I'd like to see him develop further in the NHL.