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Patrick Kane’s mild regression in the 2017-18 NHL season

Chicago’s star winger didn’t match the output of his prior two seasons

Ottawa Senators v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It’s hard to classify Patrick Kane’s 2017-18 NHL season as a “bad” one.

But having this season follow a pair of seasons that were the two best of his career is just another chapter in the disappointing book that made up the Chicago Blackhawks 2017-18 season.

Kane still led the team in points with 76, ranked second on the team with 27 goals and his 49 assists were 17 more than anyone else on the team. But that total continued the downward trend since Kane peaked in the 2015-16 season with his career-high and league-leading 106-point season. He had 89 points last season before this year’s 76.

And he’s been trending downward on even-strength points, too. He had a nice 69-point total at even strength in 2015-16, followed that up with 66 last season and was down to 54 in this one. That’s his lowest even-strength point total since the 2011-12 season, which some may recall as the time that it was suggested Kane be traded for Ryan Miller. Fun times were had.

The plus/minus statistic rarely tells the whole story accurately, but it’s worth noting that Kane was a minus-20 this season, by far the lowest mark of his career.

Of course, some decrease in Kane’s production was expected.

When the Hawks traded away Artemi Panarin last summer, Kane figured to be one of the bigger losers in that deal, because Chicago didn’t have someone to compliment Kane’s passing ability and overall hockey IQ.

Using Natural Stat Trick’s line tool, Kane clearly benefited from having Panarin on his opposite wing for nearly 1,000 minutes of even-strength ice time and saw his possession numbers falter without Panarin (Conversely, Panarin didn’t seem to struggle as much without Kane).

What’s surprising is that Kane’s possession metrics did not suffer as much this season without Panarin on the team, according to Corsica’s data.

Kane’s 2017-18 season without Panarin: 51.61 CF%, 48.04 xGF%,
Kane’s 2016-17 season with Panarin: 51.55 CF%, 46.2 xGF%,

Per Natural Stat Trick’s data, Kane’s rate of high-danger chances per 60 minutes actually increased from 11.54 to 12.31.

So why the decrease in production?

One culprit can be the same shooting percentage bug that afflicted teammates Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad. Kane’s career mark is 12.0 percent, but he was at just 9.5 percent in 2017-18, A difference of about seven goals based on his 285 shots on net this season.

But Kane largely just reverted back to the production he had in the seasons prior to Panarin’s arrival. His 0.93 points-per-game pace for the 82 games played in 2017-18 snapped a five-season stretch where that number is over one, and his career- pace is at 1.01.

Kane will turn 30 years old in November, and hasn’t shown signs of slowing down much yet. With the potential there for a progression back towards the mean for his shooting percentage numbers, it’s not of the question for Kane to get back to his point-per-game pace in the 2018-19 NHL season.