CanucksArmy Prospect Profile 2015: #7 Cole Cassels

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Perhaps no Vancouver Canucks prospect has seen their stock increase as quickly and substantially as Oshawa Generals centreman Cole Cassels has this year. When Vancouver selected Cole Cassels with the 85th overall pick in the 2013 draft, the hope was undoubtedly that he would develop the way he has over the past two seasons. 

The 6-foot-1 two-way center has improved his game each year, and played a central role in helping his Oshawa Generals win the 2015 Memorial Cup. Perhaps the high water mark in his OHL career was the playoff matchup against Connor McDavid, where he helped to hold McDavid to 7 points over a 5 game playoff series, helping his Generals advance. Rhys Jessop had this to say at the time: 

Hard-matched against Connor McDavid and the Erie Otters, Cassels had his signature series. While he really didn’t shut down McDavid at all, he simply shot the lights out by producing five more points than the Otters offensive phenom over the series, finishing off Erie in five games. In total, Cassels scored 4 goals and 8 assists, including 4 assists in the series-closing game 5, and finished second in OHL playoff scoring behind only McDavid.

In terms of his skill set Cassels is a bit of a jack of all trades. He’s definitely not an elite talent, but he’s strong defensively, with good vision and playmaking, and a pretty nasty wrist shot. He also has a well developed physical game, which bodes well for him given he likely projects to be a 3rd or 4th line center at the NHL level. 

In terms of his progression, we can see from his PCS curve that he’s improved his game each year: 

cassels

Part of this progression is due to him playing a larger role in the Generals offense then he did in his draft year. The 2012-13 Generals team team boasted Boone Jenner, Scott Laughton, and Andy Andreoff at centre, so it comes as no surprise that Cassels was pushed a little further down their depth chart at a 17 year-old. With the graduation of Jenner in 2013 and then Laughton n 2014, the Generals have become Cassels and Dal Colle’s team, and they combined to power one of the most potent offenses in the OHL last year. 

Cassels played much of the year at even strength with Bradley Latour and Calgary Flames prospect Hunter Smith, however, it was the power play where Cassels truly feasted playing along side Dal Colle. According to CHLstats.com, Cassels scored only 39 of his 81 points at even strength, so the impact of playing alongside an elite offensive CHLer like Dal Colle on the power play shouldn’t be understated. 

OHL Scout and friend of the blog, Todd Cordell, had this to say about Cassels: 

Cole Cassels is a very smart two-way forward. He is positionally sound and almost never loses his defensive assignments. He’s very effective while killing penalties and is a guy you want on the ice defending the lead. Offensively he’s a good passer and I feel his playmaking ability is a little underrated. He sees the ice well and seems to think the game a step or two ahead of most players. He’s not a dynamic player, though, and I don’t think he’ll ever be a big point producer at the NHL level. I think he could become a 3rd liner that can chip in offensively here and there and play on the PK.

As it stands now, almost one-in-four of Cassels’ PCS comparables went on to successful NHL careers, averaging the equivalent of 37 points a year, which means he likely has third line upside. I expect he’ll be given every shot to be successful, especially given Benning’s affection for hard working players with a physical edge.

Cassels will join a number of players making their AHL debut this season in Utica. Travis Green is known to keep prospects on a fairly short leash, but given Cassel’s relatively well developed defensive game, it will be interesting to see if he’s afforded more playing time in his AHL rookie year than we’ve seen with other prospects. 

There is a lot of excitement around Cassels in Vancouver, particularly because of his strong Memorial Cup playoffs and his (totally unfair) reputation as a Connor McDavid stopper. His progress since the draft has been extremely impressive, and he’ll be one of the better stories to watch this year in Utica. 

#8 – Alexandre Grenier



  • Double Dees

    Whoever u are trying to be like me, I’m all for it. Doesn’t faze me at all…

    Cole cassels. No a lot of u will say he shut down CMD in the ohl championship. Maybe he did maybe he didn’t. But he was an over ager playing against a 17year old.

    The cold hard facts are that Cole cassels will NEVER impact the Canucks or the NHL for that matter. He’ll become the second coming of a manny maholtra!!

    Nothing more… And how on earth will he make the team behind henrik, sutter, and horvat????? He can’t play the wing soooooo he’s 3 years away when the sedins are in hospice care.

    • birdie boy

      “And how on earth will he make the team behind henrik, sutter, and horvat????? He can’t play the wing soooooo he’s 3 years away when the sedins are in hospice care.”

      I understand this is a genuinely confusing point for an Oilers fans, but some teams develop their players before inserting them into a starting line-up in the NHL.

      If you are whining about how unfair it is to consider Cassels play against McDavid because of the age difference, I can’t wait to see the Oiler fan tears when McDavid plays against real men this year.

      McDavid will almost certainly be a very, very good NHL player in his prime, but “the second coming of Jesus” routine from Oilers fans may have wait a season or two to fulminate.

    • Mantastic

      You got your facts wrong. Cassels was not an overager. That was his 19 year old season, his draft+2. Cassels is a bonafide prospect, not some adult playing against kids.

      McDavid was 18 when he played Cassels, not 17.

        • Well, no. My point was to correct a person iusing faulty information in his argument. He said Cassels was an overager, an implied he was a 20 year old bullying a 17 year old. Neither were true: Connor was 18 and though Cassels was 20, he literally just turned 20 after an impressive season as a 19 year old season.

          Their cannot possibly be anything about that second sentiment you find genuinely egregious. ‘Good prospect, did an impressive thing, belongs on top 6’ is a low bar to quibble over.

          Though if you want, 2 years is significant difference for any player but McDavid. He’s a phenom. He’ll be expected to be a top six player in the NHL immediately. Worth giving the benifet of the doubt to Cole Cassels for a job well done.

    • Personally, I’ll be thrilled if Cassels turns out to be a version of Malhotra…an extremely solid third-line center considered to be one of the best at his position in the game before his horrid eye injury. Let’s not forget that he might have been the best all-around third-line center in the NHL in the Cup run year.

    • Great post man, I love the comparisons to MM great 3rd liner before his eye injury and he was a 1st round draft pick as well.

      Funny thing is that CC may turn out to be a better “all round ” player that Yaks and he was taken first overall that’s right, first overall… Lol what a waste… Haha and people are already comparing him to Patrick stepan… Like I said LoL

    • Del Valle

      While I hope Cole is a perennial all star I am not sure what’s wrong if Cole only ends up as good as Manny. Last I checked Manny has had a solid career.

  • Double Dees

    All I’m sayin is…lets play a freakin game already!!!!!!

    I hate the Canucks. I love my oil. Nothing like a good rivalry.

    The penticton tourney shall paint a bigger picture between all the prospects.

    And whoever mentioned linden vey…the guys a wash up already…

  • Del Valle

    Dear Canuck Nation. I am sincerely sorry for bring a low live internet troll. The fact is that my mom is also my aunt is one of the long list of reasons why I do what I do…

    • Double Dees

      The fact that u pretend to be someone ur not is quite sad really.

      It looks bad on u that ur self esteem is soooo low that u have to be like me, but hey do whatever u gotta do and make fun of women all u want.

      I mean , ur obviously not MAN enough to talk shiz to me boy to man, but I understand. U were that kid in school that no one reallly paid attention to.

      You scream for attention and the only way U do it is by being someone ur not.

      More publicity for me!

      Feed me, wimp.

        • Braindead Benning

          Hmm… so what you are saying is that the general rule is, that we have to embrace every player, GM, coach and owner and agree with every single move or draft pick just to be considered a “true” fan.

          I didnt like MG drafting at all until 2013 nor did i think he made very good trades, but he did well with FA signings and resonable contracts besides the NTC

          as for Jimbo, his direction is unclear, his trades are horrible and not so much for the players he gets its about how much he gives up and the way he throws around 2nd rounders.
          His contracts given thus far are assinine and its already looking as though he wont be able to manage the cap going forward and those are just a few..

          And just to clear things up i never said or insinuated that you are braindead.

          BTW, are you trevor linden?

  • birdie boy

    whats with the strong stench of coiler dribble,dude you gotta come out of the closet soon and get your canucks logo inked on yer butt.Oh wait I get it 10 years of being crusty ass wipe has affected yer brain somewhat,man gotta suck to be you .I get the lonely part but maybe play more solitaire all day long .

  • Waffles

    I’m definitely hyped about Cassels especially after reading all of Josh W’s prospect articles this past season. This is exactly the type of player that gets me excited about our prospect pipeline as he will be an exciting, dynamic player to watch on the ice. First line center material? Not really. But he will definitely sell some tickets with the edge he brings every night.

    For any of you attending the Young Stars tournament in Penticton in a few weeks you’ll get to see McDavid vs. Cassels on the Friday night. If you aren’t going I’m sure there will be some highlights on the Canucks’ website shortly thereafter.

  • wojohowitz

    I`m a big fan of Cassels and project him higher in the line up like a solid third line center or even on the second line. His confidence and competence will inspire his line mates. Dare I compare him to Jonathan Toews (Captain Serious) who will never win the Art Ross for scoring but is a major asset because of the way he conducts himself on and off the ice.

  • peterl

    I think we overestimate the Cassels-McDavid matchup. McDavid was 18 in his draft year. Cassels is 20 in his draft+2 year. McDavid will face tough competition from veteran centres this year, such as Toews, Kopitar, and Getzlaf . He will struggle more against the established veterans. Cassels was essentially a veteran in the OHL last year. The real measure of Cassels and McDavid is how good they are in their mid-20s, the prime. McDavid is a generational talent for a reason. There is room to grow for Cassels, but it is still early to project him as being the “McDavid stopper” in the future.

    • Del Valle

      If anything, people tend to underestimate the matchup. While Rhys just looked at McDavid’s overall production in the playoff series, not all of those games were Gens home games, which meant McDavid could score without Cassels on the ice.

      Not coincidentally, during the 3 games in Oshawa, McDavid got one solitary point. All the rest were when Cassels couldn’t be hard-matched with him.

      • Double Dees

        CM was gassed man. Erie took out the Soo greyhounds, the top team, and he can only carry the team so far… But the better team won.

        But no one can tel me who the future Bona fiide #1 is???

        It ain’t Cole cassels.

  • birdie boy

    I really enjoyed watching Cole’s playoff performance last year, especially as he outclassed not one but two anointed saviors of the always classy, mouth-breathing, mullet-headed franchise named after a lubricant. His performance was especially impressive, in light of his injury.

    Give him a year or two to develop in the AHL, and he’ll be a fine addition to the bottom six of the roster.

    Gotta love a management team that allows its prospects to develop properly and doesn’t set them up for failure year-after-year.

    • Double Dees

      So what ur saying is u would pass up mcdavid and strome for cassels???

      Ur delusional. And I have a box of baby wipes for ur mouth. Verbal diarrhea.

      If u think cassels outclassed these two in 5 game sample size ur truly a moron.

      And plz plz plz wipe ur mouth.

    • Mantastic

      out classed 2 prospects that both won MVP for each respective tournament, if he was so much better than the 2 of them, he would have easily won the MVP for both, but he didn’t because he isn’t.

  • Double Dees

    Very excited to see how Cole performs at camp. I like his chances of making the team better than Jake`s. My only concern is, did the abdominal injury curtail his Summer of training and set him back? Otherwise his 200 foot game, his hockey IQ and the fact he is a mean right handed center sets him up nicely for the fourth line. Hank, Bo, Sutter and Cassels at center would be fine with me

  • Waffles

    Cole is a great young prospect. 2013 was a good draft year for the Canucks.

    Cassels, Vey, and Mcann and maybe Gaunce will compete for the #4 center position. I want to see all four of these guys make the team, but not enough spots. WD has some tough decisions to make. Andrew Cassels was a character guy for Vancouver. Cole shows similar qualities and his style of play could make him a fan favorite. Keep working out with Dorsett.

  • Mantastic

    worth mention re cassels is that he played half the year + playoffs with injury. he sat out every practice and just played the games through his injury. pretty amazing considering what he’s been able to accomplish this year.

  • Braindead Benning

    The reason the comments section hasn’t been cleaned up yet is that posts by certain person(s) are actually staff writers posing as trolls and posting inflammatory comments to drive up page views in order to increase potential advertising revenue.