Minnesota Wild Trade Targets 2014: Evander Kane

Fred Greenslade-USA TODAY Sports

Continuing our series on potential Wild trade targets, I've got an idea for how the Wild can boost their stagnant offence via trade.

There are more ways to improve the Minnesota Wild than by signing Thomas VanekRyan Miller, or Matt Niskanen this offseason. So, leading up to the draft, Hockey Wilderness is going to look at 15 potential trade candidates around the league for the Minnesota Wild to target.


In the penultimate edition of our "Trade Targets" series I'm going to focus on, Winnipeg Jets forward, Evander Kane.

Who Is Evander Kane?

Kane is a 22 year old LW from Vancouver, BC, Canada who just finished his 5th(!) NHL season. He has scored 200 points in 324 games at this level, which is extremely impressive. He was originally drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers 4th overall in 2009 after he had a stellar 2nd full season with the Vancouver Giants in the WHL, scoring 96 points in 61 games.

He was lauded for his gritty play, receiving comparisons to Darcy Tucker in juniors. He stands at 6'2", 195lbs and uses his size to his advantage, playing with a lot of physicality. In fact, Kane also has shown a willingness to drop the gloves, once famously K.O'ing Matt Cooke during his rookie season. He spent the first two seasons of his NHL career in Atlanta before that franchise moved to Winnipeg and became the Jets.


-Here are his basic stats as well as where he ranked among other forwards on his team:

Season

Games Played

Goals

Assists

Points

Shooting%

EV TOI/G

2009/10

66

14

12

26

7th

11.0%

12:31

6th

2010/11

73

19

24

43

3rd

8.1%

14:42

3rd

2011/12

74

30

27

57

2nd

10.5%

15:16

4th

2012/13

48

17

16

33

3rd

8.9%

17:02

1st

2013/14

63

19

22

41

6th

7.6%

16:13

1st


How Good Is He?

Goalscoring

Kane is a pretty awesome goalscorer at 5v5 as the following stats will show.


-This table shows where Kane ranks among forwards who have played at least 3500 minutes over the last 5 years in Goals per 60 minutes at 5v5:

5v5 G/60 (2009-14, Forwards, 3500+ Mins Played)

28

EBERLE, JORDAN

0.967

29

KANE, PATRICK

0.959

30

DUPUIS, PASCAL

0.952

31

KANE, EVANDER

0.94

32

POMINVILLE, JASON

0.939

33

SEDIN, DANIEL

0.937

34

LADD, ANDREW

0.932

  • That's some pretty great company, especially when you consider that those five years take Kane from age 18 to age 22. He's still just getting started in this league and the early results are amazing.

-The next table has shortened the sample to just the last 3 years as he spent the first two years of his career just finding his way into the league. This is what he's accomplished as an established NHLer:

5v5 G/60 (2011-14, Forwards, 2000+ Mins Played)

19

RYAN, BOBBY

1.043

20

OVECHKIN, ALEX

1.041

21

EBERLE, JORDAN

1.037

22

KANE, EVANDER

1.034

23

COUTURE, LOGAN

1.025

24

READ, MATT

1.023

25

TAVARES, JOHN

1.009

  • Kane has moved up even further, landing just outside the top-20.
  • When you see that he is only two place behind Alex Ovechkin, you know he's a pretty good goalscorer.



-Finally, here is a smaller sample, showing just the last two years. This discounts his breakout 2011/12 season in which he scored 30 goals and just looks at the two most recent seasons in which he hasn't scored as much and has taken a lot of criticism:

5v5 G/60 (2012-14, Forwards, 1500+ Mins Played)

16

JOHANSEN, RYAN

0.999

17

SKINNER, JEFF

0.995

18

HOSSA, MARIAN

0.991

19

KANE, EVANDER

0.978

20

POMINVILLE, JASON

0.976

21

SHARP, PATRICK

0.97

22

KANE, PATRICK

0.967

  • Despite his totals not looking as impressive and all the criticism he has received as a result, Kane has actually been one of the best 5v5 goalscorers in the league over the last two seasons.
  • Conclusion: Evander Kane is an elite 5v5 goalscorer at just age 22.


But what about on the powerplay?

Well Kane's goalscoring on the powerplay is far less impressive. Since 2009, he has scored 1.230 goals per 60 minutes at 5v4. He ranks 119th out of 171 forwards who have played at least 500 5v4 minutes over that time period. Powerplay scoring is a tricky thing to assess, particularly in Kane's case. Firstly, he has played very few PP minutes (only 585 in 5 years) and over that period the Jets have been terrible at 5v4 (ranking 23rd in the league over that time).

While his goalscoring is unimpressive, he is generating shot attempts at a high rate (ranking 28th in Fenwick/60) but has suffered from one of the lowest Sh% of any forward (ranking 156th out of 171st).

Make of that what you will, but I seriously doubt one of the most effective goalscorers in the NHL suddenly forgets how to put the puck in the net when the other team has one less player on the ice. I'm willing to wager that his struggles have been partly due to puck luck and mostly due to the Thrashers/Jets having an ineffective powerplay system. The Wild aren't great on the PP, but they are improving and I think Kane could thrive as a part of it.


Playmaking
Kane's assist totals haven't been quite as impressive as his goals.


-Here's how he ranks in Assists per 60 minutes and Primary Assists per 60 minutes over the last 5 years and the last 2 years:

2009-2014 (3500+ mins)

2012-2014 (1500+ mins)

A/60

0.966

114th

0.838

103rd

A1/60

0.692

67th

0.768

37th

  • You can see that he has been a lot more reliable at creating primary assists rather than overall assists.
  • I imagine his relatively low assist totals are related to his lack of high quality linemates over the last few years. His most common centremen since 2012 have been Olli Jokinen and Nik Antropov; not exactly world-beaters there.


Possession
Kane is a pretty solid puck possession player, which is generally a sign that a player is good defensively. A worry with goalscorers sometimes is that they are defensive liabilities, but I think if Kane was one there would be some evidence in the numbers.


-Below are his basic 5v5 Corsi numbers for each season:

Corsi For%

Corsi Rel

2009/10

48.4%

-2.4

2010/11

49.4%

+0.7

2011/12

52.3%

+8.7

2012/13

48.9%

+0.7

2013/14

51.6%

+9.2

  • He's only broken the 50% mark twice in 5 seasons but he's been a positive player relative to his teammates every year since his rookie season, posting his best numbers in 2013/14 and 2011/12.
  • I think it's fair to say that he gets the puck moving the right way for the Thrashers/Jets and makes it count with his goalscoring which, in the end, is exactly what you want from a forward.


-Here is how he affected his team's possessions at 5v5 Close in each season of his career:
Kane_cf__medium
  • Besides his rookie year, where he was about on par with the team's overall performance at 5v5 Close, Kane has been excellent, with his most impressive years being 2011/12 and 2013/14.
  • His numbers took a bit of a dip in 2012/13, but he showed last season that it was just a minor blip.

I think I can conclude that Kane's a good possession player but he's had pretty mediocre linemates in Winnipeg. If he was to join the Wild and be put beside an elite possession driver like Mikko Koivu, he could dominate even more and get more chances to put the puck in the net.


Availability

Trade rumours surrounding Evander Kane have been going on for a couple of years now. People in the Winnipeg media feel that he hasn't played as well since the lockout and a growing list of controversies involving the young forward have turned a lot of people's opinions against him. Try Googling "Evander Kane Trade" and see how many hits you get...the internet is just full of articles on the said topic. Despite much of the criticism of his performance being completely unfair, it seems as though the Jets would be open to moving him.

The important part of that of that article is this quote from Gary Lawless of the Free Press:

Chevy and #nhljets would want a young top 6 F or young top 4 D in return for Kane. Player must be coming of age or in prime and locked up

The Wild have a lot of young players who fit the bill. Would a package of Jonas Brodin+Jason Zucker with some extras entice the Jets? Probably not. Then again, it's hard to know what the Jets see as valuable. Brodin has a great reputation and is still very young. He may have struggled this year, but I don't think that was noticed by many outside of the Hockey Wilderness community.

Maybe a package could be built around Charlie Coyle, who has the frame that NHL GMs seem to love and has probably earned quite a reputation around the league.

Another option could be to move Jason Pominville. An established, experienced scorer with history of being a captain might be just what Winnipeg needs in place of the fiery and "selfish" Kane. Pominville is a great player, but swapping him out for a player as talented as Kane could help the Wild extend their Cup window by a few years. Pominville is going to be 32 next season and is on the downside of his career. Meanwhile Kane will be 23 next year and is still a season away from the typical beginning of a player's scoring prime (24-28).

Kane will be 23 next year and is still a season away from the typical beginning of a player's scoring prime (24-28).

You might ask, how does swapping Pominville for Kane improve the Wild's scoring in the short term? Well, the Wild could still go out and sign Thomas Vanek, leaving a top-6 of: Koivu, Parise, Kane, Vanek, Granlund and Nino. If the Wild can't score goals with those guys leading the line, then there is something seriously wrong.

As always, we can speculate all we like but it's hard to know what could and couldn't happen. Lopsided trades happen all the time and I don't think it's out of the question that the Wild could trade for Kane without losing truly key pieces.


Does He Fit With The Wild?

Kane is everything the Wild need in one tidy package. He's big, he's tough and he scores goals, which is something the Wild aren't very good at. For all the team's good prospects, none of them have shown anywhere close to the kind of goalscoring that Kane is capable of. Nino Niederreiter is probably the closest thing to an out-and-out sniper the Wild have around at the moment.

Something that needs to be remembered about Kane is that he's only a few months older than Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle. We talk about the Wild's prospects developing and finding their game over the next 1-2 years, yet Kane is pretty much the same age and has already proven himself as an excellent player (look at those scoring rates). That's not a knock on the Wild's prospects, just some context for why I'm giving Kane such high praise.

The Wild have a golden chance to buy low on one of the most talented scorers in the league and should try to find some way to make it happen. This team has a wealth of forward and defensive prospects and played very strong defensive hockey last season, but they can afford to move some players and prospects if it means fixing their biggest issue, which is scoring goals.

Kane is a career 9.1% shooter who shot 7.6% last season. I'm not a betting man, but if I had to take a guess where that Sh% goes in 2014/15, I'd bet it ends up a lot closer to (or maybe above) 9.1% and not 7.6% again.

*

So, what do you think, Wilderness? Would the Wild have any shot at trading for Kane? If they did, would he be a good fit? What do you make of him as a player? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Follow me on Twitter for more hockey talk.

Thanks to Extra Skater, Hockey Analysis, Hockey Abstract and SomeKindOfNinja for all the data.

For a quick advanced stats 101, read this. For more in-depth stuff, read this.

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