Kane Is Already the Greatest American-Born NHL Player of All-Time

Now the 100th player in NHL history to join the 400-goal club, Patrick Kane is still far from being done dominating. Sitting in sixth all-time for overall production by a US-born player, he is the only athlete still active within that list’s top 10. Meaning, he has time ahead of him to achieve even more and further his case as the most elite American ever.

While most anticipate Kane becoming the best player to develop out of the USA, I’m here to tell you that he already is.

Despite the handful of former superstars born on the same soil with higher point totals than Kane, that does little to tell the full story. First and foremost, this is a focus on players, as goalies deserve a discussion of their own. Second, and more importantly, Kane’s greatness stretches beyond goals and assist. Although, he’s already near the top in that regard, too.

USA’s Most Prolific Producer

As it stands, following his three-point performance in the same game that saw him net his 400th, Kane now has 400 goals, 656 assists, and 1,056 points in 996 regular-season games played.

Nearing his 1,000th contest, Kane is arguably one of the most consistent superstars of his generation. Looked at as one of the best in the game since he started to take it over in 2007-08, the fact that he still finds meaningful ways to learn and level up speaks directly to how dynamic Kane truly is.

Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

Now, it’s relevant to make a major distinction to help illustrate why he deserves to rank higher than where a static point totals list places him. Of those that have tallied more overall than Kane, none did so as regularly over the course of their careers as he continues to.

The top six US-born producers of all-time are Mike Modano, Phil Housely, Jeremy Roenick, Keith Tkachuk, Joe Mullen, and Patrick Kane. However, if we gauge based on a point per game basis, it completely changes the dimensions of where Kane would currently land.

Ranked by Point Totals

  1. Modano: 1,374
  2. Housley: 1,232
  3. Roenick: 1,216
  4. Tkachuk: 1,065
  5. Mullen: 1,063
  6. Kane: 1,056

Ranked by Points Per Game

  1. Kane: 1.060
  2. Mullen: 1.001
  3. Modano: 0.917
  4. Roenick: 0.892
  5. Tkachuk: 0.887
  6. Housley: 0.824

Bear in mind, Kane’s pace isn’t swollen due to sample size, explained away by a couple of exceptional seasons. He has not only set this standard across his 14-year career but also elevated throughout it. Kane has achieved at least a point per game trend through seven of his last eight campaigns.

Adding to his totals at a rate of 1.478 per game so far this season, 2020-21 could make it eight of his last nine.

The LaFontaine Factor

It wouldn’t be justifiable to discuss the greatest Americans to ever play this game, without including Pat LaFontaine’s name. Unfortunately, while his point pace of 1.171 per contest achieved throughout the Hall of Famer’s 15-year career still tops that of both former and active US-born stars, the fact that his time in the league was cut short is a detriment to his overall impact.

“Pat received a lot of publicity,” Torrey said. “He was very photogenic. He had a great personality. He was very humble. And he was very exciting to watch play. He was the complete package.”

Longevity does play a factor. While LaFontaine couldn’t control that concussion concerns took priority in his decision to retire prior to his skill giving way, the reality is that the 865 games on his stat summary just didn’t grant him enough time to accumulate as much as the others noted here.

Pat LaFontaine, Buffalo Sabres
Pat LaFontaine, Buffalo Sabres (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

Reaching 1,013 points in the most competitive hockey league in the world, let alone at the rate he was able to do so, is beyond impressive. It’s just that when considering the variety of criteria at play, of which Kane is the clear number one across most, LaFontaine falls short of having reached that upper echelon.

Comparing Stanley Cup Champions

Kane’s presence was crucial towards the Blackhawks’ dynasty throughout the 2010s. He played in 120 playoff games that decade, accumulating 43 goals and 75 assists along the way. Most notably, though, is the 70 points he earned through 68 match-ups during Chicago’s three Stanley Cup runs alone.

When you dig deeper and reflect on his six game-winning goals in those Cup years, including the one that helped Chicago capture their first since 1961, his impact is impossible to ignore.

Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (THW Archives)

It’s not to say that the other five stars within the USA’s top-six of all-time weren’t also dominant playoff performers. They just never reached the level that Kane has made his norm. Using stats from Stanley Cup-winning years as the pinnacle of one’s performance, which is often the case for the most elite, Kane leads the pack yet again.

In fact, only half of these six ever reached hockey’s highest honor. Kane has already won it three times — in 2010, 2013, and 2015. Modano captured it once in 1999, accumulating 23 points in 23 games played. And Mullen hoisted the Cup in 1989, 1991, and 1992, collecting 45 points through 52 contests.

Despite decades of all-star caliber performances between Roenick, Tkachuk, and Housley, none were able to win a Stanley Cup of their own. Collectively, they have 59 years of NHL experience and made the postseason in 43 of them. Kane had three Cups by the time his seventh campaign was complete.

Keith Tkachuk, Winnipeg Jets
Keith Tkachuk, Winnipeg Jets (Credit: Al Bello/ALLSPORT)

Whether the Blackhawks’ recent rebuild can continue as successfully as it’s started, to such a degree that Kane finds himself part of another playoff push with this club, is yet to be seen. However, the fact remains that it’s still a possibility. Whereas the others have already hung up their skates for good.

And the Award Goes To…

Hockey is a team sport, first and foremost. While some rise above simply due to the success of the entire unit that surrounds them, it could seem like an unfair advantage when considering not all get to enjoy the same scenario. Simply stated, the franchise one plays for can make all the difference.

Before you claim that it’s unjust for Kane to climb as high as is being argued because he was the benefactor of being on some of the most dominant lineups in league history, let’s reflect on what he’s achieved at an individual level.

Kane already has a Calder Memorial Trophy (rookie of the year), Conn Smyth Trophy (playoff MVP), Hart Memorial Trophy (regular-season MVP), Ted Lindsay Award (most outstanding player), and Art Ross Trophy (regular-season points leader). He’s actually the first American to win the Art Ross and Hart.

“It’s amazing to me that there’s no American that’s ever won the scoring title or the MVP award because there’s been so many great American players,” Kane said. “You can go up and down the list of names, guys like [Chris] Chelios, Brian Leetch, Mike Modano, Joe Mullen, Jeremy Roenick — players that have had great careers. I don’t know if I was lucky or fortunate to be in that position, but it’s pretty amazing to say some American records you hold now, whether it’s the MVP, scoring title, point streak. It’s pretty exciting.”

By contrast, even when you combine all of the accolades among the other five that share this stage with Kane, there are only two awards between them. And both belong to Mullen, who won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (highest skill and sportsmanship) in 1987 and 1989.

Let’s recap, just to point out the obvious. Kane, alone, has his name etched into five NHL Trophies thanks to his personal achievements. Mullen, Modano, Roenick, Tkachuk, and Housely are collectively reflected on two. Even if Kane stopped playing today, his trophy case is full enough to give all six of these stars reason to stare.

What Kane Can Accomplish Next

At this point, given how he continues to evolve in such an ageless manner, is there any reason to doubt how much this 32-year-old has left in his tank? With a few more years of term on his current contract with the Blackhawks, and without yet knowing if he’d ever move on to close out his career, some simple math can help assume future trends.

For starters, even if Kane’s production drops from his current pace of 1.478 to 1.000 per game throughout the rest of 2020-21, he’ll still end the year with 67 points. And if he plays until he’s 40 — like Mondano did — that means Kane has eight seasons remaining in this league.

Mike Modano, Dallas Stars
Mike Modano, Dallas Stars (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

Between the ages of 33-40, Modano maintained a points pace of 0.658 per and averaged 67.71 games played through that span. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say that Kane will set an annual standard of 67 games and produce at 0.650 per, moving forward.

Extrapolating that data, should all pan out as modestly as has been predicted, Kane would add another 381.4 points to his current total of 1,056 by the end of the 2028-29 season. Rounding down, he would then end his career with 1,437 through 1,565 games played.

In other words, he’d sit alone atop the list of all-time production by a US-born player — 63 points ahead of Modano. He’d also then be the fifth member of an exclusive class of Americans to participate in at least 1,400 regular-season contests. Kane’s projected production pace of 0.918 per game would top the others he shared that space with, as well.

All this would do is elevate the degree of certainty to back the fact that Kane is the best player in the USA’s history of developing them. He could retire tomorrow and already own that title.

As a new era of stars begins to take over this game and make it their own, they have a long way to go to end up in the same conversation as Kane. For now, the next time someone attempts to turn this topic into a debate, you can confidently assure them that’s it’s far from being one.

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