Maine Hockey Journal

Sabres gain size with first round selection

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Portland, ME – The Buffalo Sabres made a big statement with their first round selection in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft being held in Montreal on Friday night.

The Sabres selected Zack Kassian with the 13th overall pick and by doing so have instantly upgraded their size at the forward position.

Kassian, 6-3, 212-pounds is a big rugged forward from LaSalle, Ontario that likes to play the power game and going into the corners, getting nasty when he has too. In two seasons with the Peterborough Petes, he’s scored 33 goals, 51 assists for 84 points. He’s been compared to the Boston Bruins Milan Lucic, who has become a symbol of Bruins hockey over the last two seasons.

Kassian already understands his role and is ready to perform.

“I’m a power forward,” Kassian told the NHL.com. “I like to go into the corners, go to the dirty areas to score goals, set up guys; stand up for teammates. … Just like to bring a lot of energy to my game. Anything that helps the team succeed.”

With the Sabres being a small team in stature, it was important they made a push to get bigger especially up front where they have Derek Roy (5ft-9in), Nathan Gerbe (5ft-6in), Tim Kennedy (5ft-10in) and recently signed prospect Paul Byron (5ft-9in).

“He was a player we felt strongly about,” said Sabres GM Darcy Regier. “You’re always talking about taking the best player. But, it’s tough to ignore when the needs match up, and you feel like you’ve got the best player. I think he’ll be a real good fit. I think with the addition of Myers, and now him, it’s a good compliment to the smaller skill players that we have.”

Kassian is also brimming with character after he was forced to grow up much too young. At the age of eight, he lost his father to a heart attack, leaving his mother, Shirley, and older brother, Mike, to raise the family.

Something Kassian never forgot.

“My brother really stepped in there to be a father figure,” Kassian said to the NHL.com. “I have to give a lot of credit to my mom and my brother. They drove me everywhere, got me where I needed and made me the man I am today. They deserve a lot of credit and I thank them a lot.”

Kassian plans to enjoy this time with his family and then get back to work preparing for the upcoming season.

“I’m just going to take it a day at a time,” he said. “I’m going to go back home, celebrate this weekend, and work out hard.”

“Do anything I can to possibly go to camp and make the jump.”

NOTES: Former Pirates Ryan Dingle was involved in a blockerbuster trade between the Anaheim Ducks and Philadelphia Flyers. Dingle played the part of two seasons with the Pirates, scoring one goal, six assists in 23 games. He played for the Ducks affiliate in Des Moines, IA, scoring only 18 points in 70 games. At the end of the 2007, he signed a two-deal with Anaheim Ducks, but his development appeared to have stalled in the Anaheim organization.

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