Blackhawks’ Kane Remains a Dangerous Playmaker According to His Peers

You’re not actually surprised that 32-year-old Patrick Kane is still considered one of the most dangerous threats on the ice at any given time, are you? Well, if you had any doubts about one of the Chicago Blackhawks‘ longest-tenured stars, the 2020-21 NHLPA Player Poll results should help clear up any confusion.

Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

Although his streaky production aligned with Chicago’s ups and downs this past season, Kane was still able to hit a points-per-game rate of 1.18 through 2020-21. That’s not a far drop from the 1.20 he achieved the year prior, and further evidence that his talent continues to seem ageless.

Obviously, his colleagues agree.

Explaining the Player Poll

Every year, the NHLPA polls the league on a variety of topics to get a feel for the athletes that stand out among those they’re competing against. They look at categories that explore players’ skills, personalities, and opinions formulated over the previous year.

The NHLPA Player Poll is back with our 2020-21 edition. Nearly 500 NHL players were surveyed on 14 hockey-related questions during a unique, pandemic-shortened season. Players weighed in on a variety of topics, covering on-ice skills, the schedule, players’ style – from their sticks to their suits – and more!

Regardless of the unique circumstances that the league was forced to compete within, it would have been irresponsible for anyone to assume that would diminish Kane’s on-ice impact in any which way.

Not only did Kane find a way to produce at the elite level he’s made his standard, but he also continued to achieve additional milestones along the way. He’s constantly proven to be a player that can exceed expectations and there are no signs of him slowing down any time soon.

So, while a new generation of talent takes the NHL by storm, which aspects of Kane’s game are still stealing the spotlight?

Pick a Player, Any Player

The Question

If you need to win one game, who is the one player (any position) you would want on your team?

The Results

  1. Connor McDavid (36.74%)
  2. Sidney Crosby (23.04%)
  3. Nathan MacKinnon (5.87%)
  4. Patrice Bergeron (4.57%)
  5. Andrei Vasilevskiy (4.57%)
  6. Patrick Kane (3.48%)

The Explanation

Don’t let Kane’s sixth-place ranking in this category confuse you. It’s less than indicative of an inability to be a game-breaker. Quite the opposite, actually.

First off, that Kane is still selected as a top talent if one had their pick of the crop is impressive. He’s entering his 15th year in the league, demanding a respect level most can only fantasize about. Second, he’s the only winger on a list comprised of positions that are often touted as being more pivotal to overall results. Everyone knows that depth at centre is paramount, while hot goaltending can win a Stanley Cup.

Kane being anywhere near this list shows that his importance to the Blackhawks, and recognition throughout the league, is far from diminished.

Always Making the Play

The Question

Who is the best passer?

The Results

  1. Nicklas Bäckström (20.72%)
  2. Patrick Kane (20.30%)
  3. Leon Draisaitl (18.39%)
  4. Connor McDavid (9.73%)
  5. Mitch Marner (5.71%)
  6. Sidney Crosby (4.23%)

The Explanation

Passing and playmaking have always been what fans expected out of Kane, ever since he broke into the league. He has proven, time and time again, that he can create scoring chances with more ease than most others throughout the history of this game.

While his goal-scoring prowess has improved over the years, Kane owning a top-10 spot among the league’s assist leaders has become the norm. In fact, his 51 helpers through 2020-21 had him third in that category, behind only McDavid and Draisaitl.

Every professional at this level is capable of remarkable plays from time to time. Yet, somehow, Kane makes generating highlight-reel material seem like it’s just another day at the office. Perhaps, if he had Alexander Ovechkin’s one-timer patiently awaiting the puck, he would have been ranked where he should be on this list.

Putting on a Show

The Question

Who is the best stick-handler?

The Results

  1. Patrick Kane (49.48%)
  2. Connor McDavid (25.79%)
  3. Nathan MacKinnon (7.55%)
  4. Auston Matthews (2.52%)
  5. Mat Barzal (1.47%)
  6. Aleksander Barkov (1.26%)

The Explanation

Now we’re talking. If there was going to be an area where Kane’s talents overwhelmingly overshadowed those around him, it would be stick handling. Had he not been first among this class of superstars, we should have all been calling for a recount. He’s referred to as Showtime for a reason, after all.

When you talk about teammates that make their counterparts better, simply as a result of their presence, Kane’s name has to be among the first mentioned. While it’s true that he’s had an all-star cast of linemates over the years, it’s fair to assume that Kane’s impact has elevated their stat lines in ways otherwise unachievable.

How can one player have such a direct impact on the play of those around them? It’s simple, really. Control the play and the results will follow. Well, good luck to anyone who has to defend Kane, as the puck rarely leaves his stick unless it’s headed towards an open teammate ready for a tap in or directly into the back of the net because he chose to put it there.

Best of the Best

It’s safe to say that Kane has already proven why he deserves to be considered one of the best all-time. The fact that his resume includes being crowned rookie of the year, three Stanley Cups, countless All-Star Games, joining the 400-goal club, accumulating more than 1,000 points, and a trophy case that most marvel at is impressive enough.

RELATED — Blackhawks 2020-21 Player Grades: Patrick Kane

Fortunately, we get to witness Kane continue to create history with every subsequent season. It’s not just that he has surpassed 1,000 games played, it’s that he is still performing at an elite level and those throughout the league recognize that.

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