If you polled all Senators fans, Matt Kassian might be the leader in terms of the most replaceable player on the Ottawa Senators roster. However, the impending unrestricted free agent might have a little more impact on the team than anyone gives him credit for.
I detailed earlier this year the inexplicable record the Senators have with Kassian in the lineup. At that point in time it was 11-3-6 (.700 winning %) while the Senators record overall was 18-18-7.
Well, to update that record, since that article the Senators went 6-3-4 with Kassian in the lineup to bring the overall record with him to 17-6-10. Of the 33 games he suited up for, the Senators got points in 27 of them.
For someone who has just a goal and an assist this season and averages just 4:26 of ice time when he does get into the lineup, there has to be some explanation for the phenomenon. Maybe it is his attitude on the bench or the fact that with him in the lineup the other players can play a bit bigger knowing he is just a shoulder tap away.
All I know is that with him in the lineup the Senators have a .667 winning percentage. Over an 82 game season that equates to a 109 point season. That would not only have put them in the playoffs, but it would have been the 2nd or 3rd best record in the Eastern Conference.
Granted, when you look at the teams that Kassian got into the lineup against, it isn’t exactly the who’s who of the NHL, with not a lot of playoff teams among the group.
Kassian could be re-signed pretty easily and will not be an expensive alternative, but the Senators need to decide if his presence is required often enough to justify keeping him on the roster. His obvious biggest asset is his fists, fighting 9 times in the 33 games he has suited up for. Is that enough impact, or does his presence really mean that much.
Or is the record with him in the lineup simply a mirage and a result of the Senators beating teams they should beat?
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