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Sabres halt contract talks with Zack Kassian

Zack Kassian

Zack Kassian poses with team officials as he is drafted by the Buffalo Sabres at the 2009 NHL hockey entry draft Friday, June 26, 2009, in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)


According to The Buffalo News, the Buffalo Sabres have decided to stop talks with 2009 first round draft pick Zack Kassian, after last week’s news broke that Kassian had been arrested for assault outside a bar. Says GM Darcy Regier, courtesy of John Vogl:

“It’s obviously not something we condone,” Regier said. “It’s unfortunate. I happen to believe Zack’s a good kid. He just put himself in a position that going forward you can’t put yourself in those types of positions. It’s a learning process.

“It obviously, by his own admission, wasn’t a smart thing for him to do. It caught a wave. They won the Memorial Cup. He was out with some of his [Windsor] teammates, and he’s the big guy there, getting challenged and egged on, and those are things you have to learn to walk away from. You’re not on the ice. You can’t take that position.

“We’re going to continue to work with him. I told him that on one hand there’s no way we’re going to abandon him, we’re going to help him, but he’s got some work to do on the other hand.”

Kassian was a highly regard prospect last summer, after putting up 24 goals and 63 points for the Peterborough Petes of the OHL. His combination of size (6-3, 215) and scoring and playmaking ability, especially as a right hander, had him very high on many scouts’ draft charts. He eventually went 13th overall to the Sabres.

He’s been in trouble a few times this season, however, and scored just 12 goals and 31 points this past season between Peterborough and the Windsor Spitfires. He was in trouble with his team after missing curfew and was suspended 20 games by the OHL for a dangerous hit.

With this latest transgression, combined with his drop off in production, it’s perfectly understandable that the Sabres would hold off on giving Kassian an entry-level contract. He still has one year of eligibility left with the OHL, and there is no rush to get him signed right away.

Of course, he could get things figured out this summer and lead the OHL is scoring next season. Then the Sabres might not get the deal they would be certain to get now.