Evander Kane has always been a headline-making hockey player. From highlight-reel goals, to impersonating a professional boxer, Kane’s name is never one that is forgotten around the NHL. Even though he hasn’t played in the Winnipeg Jets’ last 5 games, Kane found himself in a mix of trade conversation.
When Kane burst on to the scene with the former Atlanta Thrashers in 2009, many heads around the league turned, noticing a great amount of talent, and a young player with much potential. When the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg and became the Jets in 2011, Kane broke out, scoring 30 goals in 74 games, and recording 57 points. Kane’s speed and strength on the puck were huge assets to the team in their first two seasons, but in his third year with the Jets, Kane has stalled.
The 22-year old has scored one goal in the Jets’ last 18 games, missing the last 5 of those with a lower-body injury. Kane’s slow recovery is hampering the already weak Winnipeg offense, which has scored only three or more goals in two of their last 6 games. Kane has been underachieving with the pieces on the Jets, and head coach Claude Noel hasn’t found a dynamite line combination for #9 in 2013 so far.
Jets’ General Manager Kevin Chevaldayoff has not pulled the trigger on any big deals yet this season, and with Winnipeg looking to beef up their roster to stay afloat in the killer Western Conference, a move soon is becoming a necessity. With Kane struggling, teams with a more established offense could add him as a final piece to their puzzle, and give the Jets what they need in return.
Kane was signed to a 6-year, $31.5 million contract just last season, and still has 4.5 years worth $5.25 million each to go. His contract will be a major issue when in trade talks, but many teams around the league could afford the former 4th overall draft pick’s heavy price tag.
After the Jets made several big additions in the off-season, the only department on the team that seemed permanent was goaltending. Winnipeg is still searching one or two marquee players that can boost both offense and defense. A big plus for the Jets would be a player that has experience with special teams, as Winnipeg ranks 28th NHL-wide on the power-play, and are outside the top-10 on the penalty-kill as well. The Jets’ are in need of a mobile, puck-moving defenseman, who can lead the rush, penetrating the offensive zone, and still be solid in his own end. Winnipeg arguably has one of those already in Zach Bogosian, but his injury list keeps getting longer, and the 23-year old is currently on Injured Reserve.
Chevaldayoff was rumored to be in talks with New York Rangers‘ GM Glen Sather over a deal involving Kane. A team such as the Rangers (who the Jets beat 5-2 without Kane in the lineup on December 2nd) have an experienced offense, and could be looking for a youthful piece such as Kane. In return, the Jets could inquire for Dan Girardi, who has seen his ice time drop over 3 minutes/game from last season. Girardi, much like Kane, has bounced around the Rangers’ depth chart, but the 29-year old has 64 games of playoff experience over the forward. Kane’s dropping value would equal that of Girardi, and the Jets would be able to get a rare 1-for-1 trade for the 26-year old, otherwise the Jets would be looking at a bundle of a high-quality prospect and a draft pick.
Because any team would be uneasy about trading for an injured player, a deal of this type might not happen until closer to the Trade Deadline. However, the fast-paced business that is the National Hockey League doesn’t always stick to the norm.
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