Contracts are weird, eh? League-dominating guys like David Pastrnak sign team-friendly deals while some guys get vastly overpaid for no reason. I think you’d be hardpressed to find someone who says that Evander Kane is being underpaid, as most people agree he’s either paid correctly or, in fact, overpaid. $7 million per year for seven years is quite the contract, but the market is in a weird place right now. The cap is going to increase by between $3 million and $7 million this year, and Joe Thornton likely won’t make another $8 million dollars like he did this year. Still, it’s a large chunk of change for Kane.
I’m not here to discuss contract though, because it’s already been penned and there’s no going back. Let’s talk stats to see what exactly Kane will bring to the Sharks.
Kane As a Shark
For this part, we’ll only be using Kane’s 17 games with the Sharks, even though the sample size isn’t too big. He still played big minutes, and his time in San Jose can be indicative of the future. Because of that, let’s see how Kane stacked up with his teammates. Kane was second on the Sharks in terms of shot attempts per 60 minutes but led in terms of Fenwick with 17.22 per hour. That’s about four better than Timo Meier, who ended up being second on the team.
The most interesting occurrence wasn’t the almost-instant chemistry between Kane and Joe Pavelski, but rather Pavelski’s transition from trigger man to playmaker. Kane found a groove and just started shooting. After the top line learned their roles early and bought in, the goals couldn’t help but follow.
It’s no shock after reading the previous stats to learn that Kane led the Sharks in shots per 60 with 13.87. Shots per 60 is probably the most important stat when predicting future scoring. Guys like Alexander Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos have dominated the stat over the past five years or so, but once in a while, some new players will sneak in. People who watch shots per 60 closely were the hipsters who picked Viktor Arvidsson to break out; meanwhile, those same people remain excited about Timo Meier.
Shots and possession don’t matter too much if you can’t get to the net, though, which Kane does extremely well. Kane was yet again the leader in terms of goals per 60, but some good or bad luck can mess with that number. So let’s focus on scoring chances and, more importantly, high-danger scoring chances.
No surprise here, but Kane led in terms of scoring chances created among Sharks players. He produced 13.22 per hour, just about two better than second place. Kane also produced just over eight high-danger chances per hour while with the Sharks. His strength comes from using his powerful frame and getting to the net. While a lot of Sharks are good around the net, no one gets to the dirty areas with as much skill as Kane does.
Kane Against Everyone
My title for this section might be a bit ironic, as Kane’s career has felt like a city or team versus Kane at certain points. Using that premise, let’s see how Kane stacks up among the best in the league. We’ll be using his full season this time, and his opposition will have had to play at least 1,000 minutes in the season.
Let’s start with a positive: Kane had the second-best shots per 60 in the NHL behind Brendan Gallagher, as they had 11.56 and 11.74, respectively. Second-best is obviously very high, but it looks even better when you realize he’s ahead of snipers like Nathan MacKinnon (seventh), Viktor Arvidsson (fifth), Vladamir Tarasenko (eighth), and Alex Ovechkin (ninth).
Kane’s shots per 60 is incredible, but unfortunately, it doesn’t always translate to goals. He produced 1.04 per 60, good for 42nd in the NHL. Essentially Kane is producing a goal per three or four games, which would translate to just under 22 goals in a full season. Those numbers aren’t exactly “star-worthy,” but let’s remember that Kane had to play in a Jack Eichel-less Buffalo for a good portion of the season. Still, Kane is close to some stars like Sebastian Aho (41st), Jeff Skinner (46th), and Phil Kessel (39th).
Kane’s possession stats are more or less in line with his shot metrics. Kane produced 18.40 Corsi per 60 as well as 14.86 Fenwick per 60, good for 11th and 10th in the NHL, respectively. Once again, Kane is among some elite talent in terms of shot production, but that’s been his M.O. since he scored 30 in Winnipeg. Kane is a shot producer, and I think it’s fair to expect these numbers to rise if he’s paired with one of the best playmakers of all time in Joe Thornton.
Is Kane Worth It?
From the stats we saw, I really think that the Sharks are better for having Kane. The salary cap is skyrocketing and the Sharks have some huge money coming off the books. Of all the possible free agents, I think Kane was the safest bet for the Sharks to go after. John Tavares is still the main prize, but my confidence that he’s leaving the Island is decreasing by the day. While the popular opinion is that the Sharks overpaid, I don’t necessarily blame them. Kane’s stats were impressive, and they show that things can be just as good for the next few years.
Hockey fan from San Jose, currently living in the cold north. I love all things hockey but I like to cover the Nashville Predators. If you want numbers and graphs, I’m your guy.