Heading into the 2009 NHL entry draft, the top North American ranked skaters were John Tavares and Matt Duchene. As it turns out, these two and the top-ranked European skater (Victor Hedman) occupied the first three picks in the draft. At number four overall, the Atlanta Thrashers would select Vancouver native Evander Kane. Kane had just wrapped up a 96-point performance in 61 games for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL and would turn pro the very next season.
In his first 66 NHL games, Kane notched 26 points and 62 penalty minutes. Up until this point, Kane had never skated for a team outside of Vancouver and the adjustment was harsh. Atlanta wasn’t exactly a hockey hotbed, evidenced by the organization’s relocation to Winnipeg and the fact that the organization was still selling season tickets one hour before the announcement.
Although only 6’2” and 190 lbs., Kane was the type of player who had sandpaper in his game. He would drive the net hard, drop the gloves if necessary, and most importantly, bury his chances. In his second NHL season, Kane skated for 73 games, and was just one goal short of breaking the 20-goal barrier. Kane’s 43 points on the season marked a significant step forward from the previous year.
At age 20, Kane’s franchise would relocate to Canada. Excitement would fill the locker room and the players instantly became re-energized. After starting the season on a line with Burmistrov and Antropov, Kane would eventually be switched to a line with a struggling Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler. The move proved to be effective with instant chemistry. The line has been Winnipeg’s most productive. In fact, the top three most productive lines all feature Evander Kane.
So how good has the 20-year old left winger from Vancouver been for Winnipeg? His 14 goals in 25 games equal the total he had in his rookie season and currently have him ranked sixth overall in the league. Although it’s early, his 21 points are equal output to that of Corey Perry and Marian Gaborik. His 23 penalty minutes are on track with the pace he’s registered over his career (near one PIM per game), which says that as his points continue to increase, his penalty minute output will likely not suffer.
Need some more reason to get Kane on your squad? His 98 shots on goal are the fourth most in the league. Between he and teammate Dustin Byfuglien, they are one shot shy of 200 and we are only 25 games into the season! Despite his early season success, many haven’t realized just how good of a multi-cat player he is becoming. Adding 61 hits into the equation makes him one of the top multi-category players early on, and he is just beginning to reach his potential.
Although he has only two years of NHL experience, the young Kane is leading his team in scoring and is on pace to score 69 points this season. If you have the opportunity to land Evander Kane, he will certainly end up paying dividends sooner rather than later.