Player Eval: Patrick Kane

Player Eval: Patrick Kane

What can be said that hasn't already been said about Patrick Kane? Kaner builds more talk off the ice than he does while actually playing hockey, which is pretty difficult for a guy packing the skills he does and especially considering that he won a Stanley Cup by the age of 21 which included the Cup winning goal. Kane's ability to make defensemen's heads spin is quite an entertaining experience and so is following his young career into superstardom.

Just like so many other Hawks this past season, I think Kaner had a down year. Possibly the result of an annoying ankle injury (those just don't ever heal), and definitely a resulting affect of the lacking physical presence on the team. Kane has been quoted as mentioning how the vacant toughness allowed opposing players to run rampant on his smaller frame. Rendering the offensive giant slightly crippled.

Kane still managed a 70 point season, which is nothing to sneeze at, but still falls short of what I believe we all expect out of this puck handling magic. In fact, I don't think I will feel like he has hit his potential until notching a few 100 point seasons, or in the least a 90 point year. He just wasn't quite there this year. His shot was most definitely not, missing the mark so often he just stopped shooting. Where was the confident young lad from yester year who consistently challenged goaltenders to his top shelf wrister, or who took the extra chance and made a drive to the net?

Kane seemed out of energy as much as the next guy, and his defensive contributions were laughable to begin the year. A few too many visits to the bar after hours maybe? Shockingly, defense is the area that Kane ended up improving on more than any area of his game. A neagtive 11 at one point, Kane started back-checking, and even physically took players off pucks which resulted in a plus-6 rating by the end of the year. Down from last year yes, but I saw an improved defensive player all around. Stats never tell the whole story.

An area I feel fine pointing angrily to stats in Kane's performance is at his PP goal production. 5 is just not going to cut it for a player with his talents. Part of this is because of his inability to push the envelope this year. There were many shouts at the T.V to just shoot the damn puck. Hesitation kills a sniper. He never took any chances, unless you call his fascinating but useless spin-o-rama taking a chance.

The fact remains that when Kane is on his game, his puck handling skills are stellar. His ability to control the puck leading to a heavily favored puck possession game knocks me out of my seat even when nothing happens as a result. This is why so many NHL players have found it best just to give him the space  he demands, which only serves to open up more opportunities including that brilliant cross ice pass he has become so famous for. This space is quite the gift and Kane just couldn't use it this year. I doubt he goes very long without cashing in on it in the future though.

Once again, as I have with so many other Hawks, I expect a huge season for him coming, but can everybody Im anticipating breakout performances from actually live up to it? Will Kane be the player we anticipate? Is 100 points too much to ask? Does he have the focus and personal drive to make it happen?

Kane is known to be a big family guy which is something that bodes well for a guy who has had a slightly controversial personal life. It is an element that I usually chose not to comment on. A: because you never know the truth, and B: because I think it is a personal issue that should be dealt with as such. So if there is an off-ice concern for Kaner, I would hope that the administration deals with accordingly . Just remember that the guy is only 22 now, and became a superstar by the age of 20. You are allowed some follies, just get it together at some point. There is a large audience depending on it.

Final grade: I feel pretty sound in handing out a grade somewhere in the C+ range.  73 points isn't too shabby. But when the bar is 100 points,  it seems like a heavily underachieving year. He is only 22, I got give him something to strive for, and he has lots of time to get there. Building on his defensive game is a good accomplishment in its own right.

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  • Fairly or not, what's said about what Kane does off ice seems to color everything he does on the ice. If all we hear is that he works out when not playing hockey, I tend to think the bar doesn't get set quite as high. In a year where a lot of players took a step backward, I'm hard pressed to say that Kane stepped further back then anyone else. He had a good but not great season and in the midst of that, he had some more bad PR. Strangely, when the bad PR cranks up, Kane seems to respond with a hearty FU effort and an implied, "Stuff it" to his critics.

    For this year, I give him a solid B. At times he looked disinterested, but I also think he was hurt and not 100%. Skill wise, I have no doubt that Kane is going to continue to improve as I believe he is too talented to not do so. The biggest thing I am looking for from him though is a change in demeanor. I do believe he works hard and I do believe he will come to camp ready to go. But, as a good and bad thing, I think Kane always has a reserve to draw on to shut someone up AFTER he's taken some shit for something he's done off ice. Is it possible to be engaged but not leave it all on the ice? If so, that's kinda how I think about Kane. I do think this will change, but I'm not sure this is the year it does. Still, I am looking forward to see Kane this year.

  • I have heard a great deal of grumbling in Kane's direction, some of it even calling for his trade. I am nowhere near that camp. I feel positive overall about Kane's abilities and contribution to the team. Plus, he is really fun to watch. The grade reflects a need for him to have stepped it up this year. The pressure was on the "core" guys and he did not answer it. Sharp did, and Toews too. Getting a B suggests that he met the challenge where an A suggests he surpassed it. I think he fell short of that call, regardless of the reasons. I too am looking forward to watching Kane this year.

  • Kane at this stage in his career only of value in the offensive zone. He has nothing but time to grow. He was on a great path to 2-way success when the Cup got in his possession prematurely. I hope that didn't stunt his growth. Every time he made a bad pass or his pocket was picked he put his head down and went to the bench. Very few times did he try to get it back. Technically he's only one of the core guys because he's great inside the opponent's blue line. The other core guys have much more of a rounded game.

    For whatever reasons he had an off year. Great news, he gets another chance or 4. C+ for 2010-2011 from me too. Shouldn't be anything less than an A in 2011-2012.

  • Let's not forget that he's had wrist surgery before getting hopes too high re: 100+ points this year. Last year he suffered from the same symptoms as the rest of the squad.

    I agree with all written about PK. Offensively he's always—or so it seems—ready to go, but on the backcheck …

    Nonetheless, he's just a pup still, and we can all reflect on our own lives at that age before we cast a stone his way. (Give me a million bucks at age 22 and I may have ruined my life forever.) I think PK is a winner through and through. He's scored some mighty big goals in his short career, and that's primarily what he is paid to do. By the end of his contract look out …

    C+ from me too.

  • You make it seem as if posting a 100 point season is easy even for good players. Stamkos has yet to break the 100 point mark in his young career. Hossa has reached 100 points only one in his career, and the best all around player in the league, Pavel Datsyuk, has never surpassed 100 points in his illustrious career. I think 100 points is way to high of a bar for Kane. I think 75-90 points is a reasonable range to expect of him. Basically a point a game, with the chance for extended streaks and big seasons. It is hard to get 100 points in post-lockout NHL. And when a team is as balanced as the hawks scoring wise, it is unreasonable to expect 100 points.

    I would be very surprised if Kane's career season ever tops 100 points. I think he will be very much in the Brad Richards mold, where consistent 70-90 point season is what you will get, with an max in the high 90's. If you put Kane with Toews and Sharp for an entire season, with Keith on the backend for most of it, he MIGHT surpass 100. As things stand I think 85 points is a perfect over/under for him at this stage in his career.

  • In reply to al44:

    Couldn't agree more. Well said. The key word "consistent". A point-per-game average is quite an accomplishment in today's NHL.

  • I see your point whole heartedly. 100 points might just be impossible in this league now. However, when I look at Kane's skills as a playmaker, passer, stickhandler and all around offensive powerhouse, I expect more. With his role on the power-play and his vision of the ice, Kane should at least hit 90 points.
    His contributions are purely offensive production where as other players like Hossa and Toews also contribute to the defensive aspects of the game. Toews managed to top Kane in points production while offering a more well rounded game.
    I have rarely seen a guy move the puck the way Kane does and his 73 points even in a down year serves as evidence to a much higher expectation.

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