In the words of the WWE’s GREAT announcer Jim Ross: BAH GAWD! ITS KANE! ITS KANE! KANE IS IN SAN JOSE! KANE IS IN SAN JOSE!!!
Doug Wilson did it again. The San Jose Sharks have acquired Evander Kane from the Buffalo Sabres for a conditional first round pick (which becomes a second if the Sharks do not resign him or do not win the Cup this year), a conditional fourth round pick (that can become a third if the Sharks choose), and Danny O’Regan.
This trade is an absolute steal. Evander Kane is the player this team has been missing all season. He’s big, fast, and plays with an edge, and this team doesn’t exactly have sharp corners. Kane has had a nice year in Buffalo, scoring 20 goals along with 20 assists for 40 points (That’s an algebra 2 education, folks!). He will make an immediate impact starting today at home against Edmonton.
The acquisition of EK9 does throw some things off with the line combinations, as Kane is another left-handed shot, adding to the mass of left-handed forwards on this hockey team.
Peter DeBoer has his work cut out for him when it comes to who plays where. It is going to take a few games to get Kane acclimated on exactly who his line mates will be. Personally, I’d like to see some experimentation to add some offense. A first line of Timo Meier - Tomas Hertl - Joe Pavelski would be an interesting one. Pavelski — to me— just isn’t a center anymore, and can focus on doing what he does best. Going to the net, and screening the goalie or getting deflections or redirects. This would allow Hertl to focus on center duties and getting the puck to Meier and the Captain.
However, we are talking about Peter DeBoer here, and he’s been reluctant to put Hertl at center for various reasons. But in this case, Kane may have forced his hand. He needs a right-handed shot on the top line, and both Meier and Hertl are left-handed, leaving Pavelski, the right-hander, to shift back to his natural side.
This would put Kane along with Logan Couture and Kevin Labanc. Again, while I’d love to see Kane, Couture, and Hertl on the same line, those three are all left-handed, and you can’t have an all lefty line.
There is going to have to be some experimentation on the top-six with the addition of EK9 into the lineup, but I think the lines project initially like this:
Meier - Hertl - Pavelski
Kane - Couture - Labanc
Boedker - Tierney - Donskoi
Goodrow - Fehr - Hansen
Having Kane in the top-six also takes a lot of pressure off of Joonas Donskoi, who has been struggling of late. Adding him to the third line will allow him to be the play-maker he is, and presents a mismatch for most checking lines in the NHL. He’s now going to be one of the better players on the ice every time he enters the game.
If Joe Thornton can come back it creates this scenario:
Meier - Thornton - Pavelski
Kane - Couture - Labanc
Boedker - Hertl - Donskoi
Goodrow - Tierney - Hansen
Again, the addition of Kane leaves too many lefties on the wings, so the Sharks may be forced to move Hertl back to center. This now pushes Chris Tierney down to the fourth line, which isn’t a slight on him. It’s just going to have to be that way, and it allows DeBoer to comfortably roll four lines, as Tierney is a major upgrade at that position over Eric Fehr. PDB has said time after time that he is uncomfortable putting the fourth line out there due to their extreme lack of offense. Now with Tierney inserted as the catalyst of that line, he can send out four lines with impunity.
This move, adding just the one player, instantly makes this team much better. It pushes talented players like Donskoi, Hertl, and Tierney down the lineup and will create mismatches against other teams less talented bottom-six. Hertl, for all intents and purposes, is a top-six player. We’ve seen that talent. But it is to the Sharks’ advantage to center him on the third line with another player with top-six talent, such as Donskoi. It essentially creates a scoring second line, and another scoring line, rather than a traditional checking third line.
Kane brings a lot to the table in both good and bad ways. We know about his talent on the ice. The guy can absolutely fly and has scored 20 or more goals every season for the last three seasons. He’s a guy with all the skill in the world, but when you take a look at his raw numbers it seems like he’s underachieved, with 57 points is a career high. But Kane has never been on a team as talented as the Sharks and has never benefited from playing on a line with the likes of Joe Thornton, Logan Couture or even Brent Burns or Marc-Edouard Vlasic feeding him pucks from the blue line.
But with the good, comes the bad. Kane’s career has also included allegations of assault and harassment during his time in both Winnipeg and Buffalo. The charges in both of these cases were eventually dropped, however, he was sued in 2016 concerning the assault allegation in Buffalo. And we all know about his famous exit from The Jets.
The Sharks have the dressing room to absorb a guy with some character concerns like Kane. Thornton, Pavelski, and Burns all provide great veteran leadership and will not allow guys to get out of line in the room or at the rink. Plus, Pavelski, who played with Kane in the KHL during the 2012 lockout year, says he loves Kane’s game. And apparently it’s good enough for Kevin Weekes, too, and if it’s good enough for Weekesie, it’s good enough for me.
On the ice, this was a fantastic deal for the San Jose Sharks. They get a really good player for the playoff push. Kane is 26-years-old and is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. These next 19 games will serve as a litmus test to whether or not this organization is going to bring him back. This adds to the long list of great deals that Doug Wilson has made over the years. This one may be the most controversial, but hockey-wise, could be one of his best yet.