REPORT: Oilers, Kassian Closing In On Contract

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-San Jose Sharks at Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers and veteran forward Zack Kassian appear to be closing in on a new contract. Kassian, a pending unrestricted free agent, just served the final game of his two-game suspension for last Saturday’s altercation with Calgary’s Mathew Tkachuk.

Sportsnet’s Mark Spector reported during Edmonton’s 7-3 victory that a Kassian extension is likely to be for four years. As for salary, the Oilers are expected to pay Kassian somewhere between $3,250,000 and $3,500,000 per season. Kassian was acquired from Montreal in December, 2015.

Kassian has 28 points (13-15-28) in 44 games this season, with all 28 points coming at five-on-five. The veteran forward is just one point off of his career-high of 29 points, which he accomplished during the 2013-14 season as a member of the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian, per hockey-reference, is averaging 16:15 time-on-ice per game while playing primarily with Connor McDavid. Kassian has a 49.3% Corsi For percentage at five-on-five this season.

Thoughts On The Contract

My hope, coming into these negotiations, was that the Oilers could get Kassian signed for $3,000,000 per season. A lot of people will tell you that is an overpay, but I disagree. If we are being realistic, Kassian was always going to get a raise of at least $1,000,000 on the open market.

The money is a little too much for me, but if it comes in around $3,375,000 per year I can live with it. It is a slight overpay, but not one that is crippling for the club. My biggest issue is with the potential fourth year. It’s a risk assuming that a player who plays as hard as Kassian will be able to hold up over the course of a longer deal.

It’s not a huge overpay, but it certainly won’t be a value contract for GM Ken Holland. How this impacts the team this summer remains to be seen, but it will cut a little deeper into their anticipated cap space.

Kassian is a solid NHL player and has proven that he can play with skill. Some might disagree, but I truly believe that has value. Not only does he have the hands to play with McDavid, but his physical play is a nice element to have with the captain.

I’m not talking about being a ‘deterrent’ either. I’m talking about Kassian’s ability to win puck battles, keep the forecheck going and help with the cycle. I think that has real value. I also believe that Kassian is a key part of the leadership core in the room. That too has value.

No deal has been inked yet, but it certainly seems like we are closing in on an extension between Kassian and the Oilers. Although the contract appears to be a little long length wise, the money is close enough where I really can’t complain about the deal too much.

More to come as it happens.

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