In what appears to be perfect timing, the Edmonton Oilers have signed forward Zack Kassian to a four-year contract extension with an annual average salary of $3.2 million per season.

The news was first broken by Bob McKenzie of TSN and while the Edmonton Oilers have not confirmed the signing as of this writing, it is expected they will and the broadcast of tonight’s hockey game versus the Calgary Flames will be heavily Kassian focused.

Great Deal for Kassian

This new contract represents the highest contract Kassian has ever signed in the NHL. That said, to many, he’s earned it. Now 29, Kassian has battled back over the duration of his career from almost finding himself out of the NHL before the Oilers gave him one last chance. Now, he finds himself firmly planted on the Oilers top line, playing alongside the game’s best player.

Zack Kassian
Edmonton Oilers’ Zack Kassian celebrates a goal with the bench. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

This season, he is on pace to post the highest offensive totals of his NHL career. With 13 goals and 15 assists in 44 games, he enters Wednesday’s game against the Flames just a couple of markers shy of both his high in goals and assists for a single season. The way he’s played this season, it might not take him long to surpass those totals.

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Perfect Timing for Kassian’s Deal

The announcement of Kassian’s new deal comes just hours before he’s set to hit the ice, returning from a two-game suspension for his pounding on Flames’ forward Matthew Tkachuk. The game has been hotly anticipated since the Oilers last played the Flames, including a bye week and an All-Star break for the organization which gave fans and media plenty to talk about.

And, talk about it they did. Kassian has been receiving high praise from former NHL’ers and those around the Oilers organization for the way he handled himself despite his suspension. Fans in Calgary have sung a different tune, as did Thachuk who suggested Kassian “get off the tracks” if he doesn’t want to get hit.

Zack Kassian Edmonton Oilers
Zack Kassian, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Undoubtedly, the Oilers and Flames will already be entering their rematch with high energy and determination since the games are so important to both team’s standings in the Pacific Division and Kassian has that little something extra to give now having just signed his new deal and the ink isn’t likely dry. Fans will assume he’ll be out to prove he’s worth every penny.

Related: Dissecting the Flames’ Lack of High-End Offence This Season

The Fourth Year for Kassian

If there’s a complaint about this deal, it could be that the fourth year was tacked onto the contract in an effort to keep the annual average number down per season. Since Kassian has really only showed this one season to be an outlier, concern he may not be able to reproduce these numbers is out there. That fourth year means, should he not, the Oilers are tied in long-term.

But, Kassian offers more than just scoring. At $3.2 million per season, should his production drop, he’s hardly going to be the most expensive third-line player where he can do more than just score but hit and get the team going with his never-ending energy. There are worse ways in the NHL to spend money these days.

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