We wrap up our season reviews today with the pair who have been liked since Day 1, and will hopefully be linked together for a long time to come. Yeah, that's right. A long time to come. While there were lots and lots of people lining up to call Patrick Kane a disappointment this season, there are throngs of players and fanbases who would have killed for their top right winger who had to fill in at center to put up the numbers Kaner did. But it's Patrick Kane, and people like to focus on all the things he's not instead of just how wonderful the things he is. On the ice, that is.
Patrick Kane's Stats: 82G 23G 43A 66P +7 40PIM 0.48 Behind The Net Rating, 0.029 QofC, 11.09 CORSI
The Good: Let's start with the last six weeks of the season. While 17 points in 22 games doesn't sound all that impressive, anyone who watched Kane slot over to the #1 center role in Toews's absence knows that he was simply everywhere a majority of the time. What he wasn't doing himself he was setting up Hossa to do. And he was doing it at a position he hadn't played at anything resembling the NHL level. That's more impressive than he gets credit for. Here's another thing that doesn't get mentioned: Patrick Kane has never played less than 73 games in a season. Jonathan Toews can't say that. Patrick Sharp can't say that. Dave Bolland can't say that. It's kind of shocking to say at his size that Kane is durable. But he is. Even when he's banged up, which he has been at times the past two years, he's out there. And yet fans continue to call him soft. It's just utter bullshit. And while 66 points is less than we'd like from Kane, he's on a very short list of active players who started their careers with five years of 20 goals and 40 assists. The others are like Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin, and Kovalchuk (I'm not sure the actual list, I just know it's impressive). Maybe more people should realize what type of player the Hawks have here. Including those upstairs.
The Bad: Obviously, it wasn't all roses. The power play struggles have a lot to do with Kane, though he wasn't helped by a crack-ass system. Still, Kane is generally the one who makes things happen on the man advantage, no matter the circumstances, and he didn't. While his defensive game isn't nearly as bad as the mustached and beef-soaked morons will have you believe, he can still struggle there. But part of that has to do with being asked to do the defensive work of a center for a first time, which he's never had to do before this season. Yeah, the faceoffs sucked too, but again, he was playing center for the first time. Even if he knew a week before the season that he was going to play some center (which he didn't) that wrist injury would have prevented him from working on draws during the summer. Kane wasn't much of a factor in the playoffs either, the second straight year that's been the case. Which can't happen, there's no way around that. Kane's biggest flaw on the ice is not always taking what's there, i.e. shooting the fucking thing. Because Kane does have a lethal shot. But he tries to make the extra pass too often, which is understandable because he's one of the few guys around who can make a pass no one else sees. But he needs to shoot more, and go to the net more to open up space for that pass. For the first time, teams were sending two or three guys at Kane as soon as he crossed the blue line, not allowing him to pull up to hit the late man. If he would have faked that and headed straight to the net more often, he would find a lot more scoring opportunities, and eventually get teams to back off to open the passing lanes. And then there's the Drinky McGoo aspect, which we've been over ad nauseum.
Contract: Three years left at 6.3M hit
Stick Around or Hit The Bricks: Here's what I will say about Kane and the possibility of moving him that we're going to hear numerous, nauseating rumors about this summer: He has probably fallen off the completely untouchable list that is now only occupied by Toews, Keith, and Seabrook. If there's an offer that absolutely causes Stan to stick to his chair, it should obviously be considered. But I don't think there is such an offer forthcoming. Yes, Kane has got some issues on and off the ice, and while some may portray this as the first time the Hawks have tried to talk to him and get him to cut it out, it most certainly is not. So showing up on Deadspin is a definite thumbing the nose at them. Now he's been publicly admonished, and he might be out of chances. That said, trading him just to trade him would be the definition of galactically moronic. This is a generational talent, and I'll keep saying that until everyone listens. You don't give up on that because he fucks up your marketing campaign. Maybe the thought is he'll never grow up here, and if he never grows up he'll never be the 85+ point player we all know he should be. That's a valid argument, I guess, but I don't think it's as strong as riding it out with someone as dynamic as Humpty Hump.
The other debate is going to be where to play him. I've sort of come off my no-way-at-center ethos, though I think I still prefer him at wing. But I like what I saw when Kane had more space to operate in the middle. The draws and defense are a worry, but those can be worked on. With defenders flying at him on the half-boards, his options were limited. He does have more from center. So if the Hawks can't find a genuine #2 center, maybe it makes more sense than I've thought to try it again. But again, he has to stay here to do that. And he should stay here, no matter what.