Zack Kassian isn't quite ready for the NHL, the Buffalo Sabres decided today. The team has sent the 2009 first-round pick back to Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League, one of nine moves made to trim the roster.
Kassian had one assist in four preseason games. The 6-foot-3, 226-pounder was a physical presence in the opener against Toronto, but the Sabres feel he needs to work on his quickness and improve his play away from the puck to be NHL ready.
"I had a good camp," Kassian told The News by telephone. "I came in here doing what I wanted to do. I got a taste of what it’s like in exhibition, and now I know what to work on to make that team next year.
"Exhibition games are really fun. I didn’t really know what to expect going out there, skating around, playing with guys that play in the NHL. It’s an eye opener to see how good they are and how hard they work."
The Windsor Spitfires will be trying for their third straight Memorial Cup championship, and Kassian is expected to play a significant role.
"I’m really excited to go back to junior," the right winger said. "That’s a big part of developing. I’m going to go back to junior and I’m going to play a lot of minutes. I’m going to play in every situation. I’m going to have a lot more chances offensively, and that’s going to overall make my game a lot better."
The Sabres' other roster moves included sending forwards Mark Mancari, Luke Adam and Paul Byron, defensemen T.J. Brennan, Drew Schiestel and Dennis Persson, and goalie David Leggio to minor-league Portland. Forward Mark Parrish was released from his professional tryout contract, and General Manager Darcy Regier told The News he will speak with Parrish's agent about the winger joining the organization as a depth player.