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2014 NHL Offseason: Winnipeg Jets Open To Evander Kane Trade?

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Maybe seems to be the best answer.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

And up above us all
Leaning into sky
Our golden business boy
Will watch the North End die
And sing, "I love this town"
Then let his arcing wrecking ball proclaim

That song, while not written specifically about the Winnipeg Jets or General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, might as well be. Ondrej Pavelec is still terrorizing Jets fans as of this writing. Alex Burmistrov is still somewhere in Russia. His best defenseman is playing forward. And, most importantly for fans of the Dallas Stars and the purposes of this post, he seems to be pushing Evander Kane out the door.

Kane was selected fourth in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft in a draft that had John Tavares, Victor Hedman, Matt Duchene, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Brayden Schenn, and Nazem Kadri as other top ten picks.

It was a good year for talent.

Two of that group appear to be on the trading block heading into this year's draft. The Leafs appear to be pushing Kadri out the door. Kane seems destined to be the next member of that group changing addresses.

Gary Lawless wrote about the possibility for the Winnipeg Free Press on June 18th.

You should go read it. It's a very informative article. Even if you don't go read it there, at least click the link so they get some advertising dollars. I'm going to cite it heavily here, but there is some good information I won't be touching.

The first thing we need to know is why would Kane be available:

The other side of the equation is maybe we've seen the best of Kane and he's never going to be a consistent 30-goal guy. Under that premise, trading Kane now would seem to be the right move if the return is strong. There's little evidence, however, to suggest Kane won't continue to improve and become a better and more valuable player.

Kane is flawed in that he doesn't see the ice very well and his goal production to date has been inconsistent. He might argue the same can be said of his linemates, and it's true Kane has been forced to play with a bit of a dog's breakfast during his three seasons in Winnipeg. He's also been an infrequent member of the No. 1 power-play unit. If Kane is to grow he needs both more opportunity and higher-quality opportunity.

I can't tell you whether or not he can see the ice very well, but I can tell you in the even strength minutes he was given he produced offensively in 2014. I can't tell you why, but Kane doesn't get secondary assists. Like, at all.

Year 2A
2014 0.06
2013 0.15
2012 0.6
2011 0.23
2010 0.3

I could buy the argument about no vision if that was primary assists, but once the puck is off of Kane's stick how much responsibility does he have for what happens to it? To record a secondary assist two other players have to do something with the puck, and as Lawless pointed out (which we will get to momentarily) finding two consistently good offensive players that played legitimate minutes with Kane is hard to do.

If we look at only his goals and primary assists at even strength we can see that Kane was quite useful offensively. If we remove secondary assists Kane was 26th among forwards in points/60. The five players in front of him were Kyle Okposo, Paul Stastny, Thomas Vanek, Bobby Ryan, and John Tavares. The five behind him were Patrice Bergeron, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Ryan Johansen, and Taylor Hall. That's pretty salty company.

Of the 25 players ahead of Kane 13 had a higher quality of competition. In other words, he's been productive. One troubling aspect is the career 9.1 shooting percentage on 727 shots. You would like to see it a bit higher for a goal scorer, but as is he's still a good offensive player.

His linemates were a joke last season. His most frequent linemate was Mark Schiefele with 354 minutes. The most minutes he played with any forward in 2013 was 471 with Olli Jokinen. Think about that for a moment. In the shortened season Kane spent 100 more minutes with his top linemate than he did in an injury shortened 63 game season. He doesn't escape fault for his production, but it's easy to see how he could have difficulty adjusting to so many different linemates.

The powerplay production issue is worthy of consideration too. He was 5th among Jets forwards in PPTOI/60, but he was also terrible. Among the Jets that averaged a minute of PPTOI/60 only two scored at a lower rate. He didn't produce enough to warrant more ice time. Maybe a new team can get more production out of him, but the current level isn't enough to justify giving him more time unless he earns it.

The off ice issues are where things get dicier.

You can find any number of gossip-y stories about Kane on the internetThere's also the Twitter issue where he called Chris Bosh a "fairy". Kane has put himself in some situations that draw unnecessary attention to himself, and has shown some poor judgement. What people have to keep in mind is that he is young. There are a lot of people in their early 20's that do just stupid stupid things.

He forgot to pay some traffic tickets. Kids do this. One was for texting and driving. Should he have referred to Bosh as a fairy? No, but to be honest I don't really think we can draw any conclusions about his character based on that incident.

I've been teaching high school for a couple years now and homophobic and racial slurs being used casually is a constant problem. Kane's response to his actions is pretty typical in my experience. He was initially defiant on Twitter while calling people "too sensitive" and telling them "not to make something out of nothing". After talking with Patrick Burke of the You Can Play team he apologized and acknowledged that he understood why his word choice was poor. It looks to me like he didn't intend to offend anyone, then immediately felt the need to be defensive while lashing out, before finally realizing he made a mistake after the situation was explained to him by a reputable figure.

Make no mistake, Kane should be held responsible for his actions. But, if you're running an organization that has invested in a top five pick that keeps drawing negative attention to himself at what point do you, as an organization, claim responsibility for keeping his profile low? Why is he still allowed on Twitter? When the Dallas Stars acquired Tyler Seguin he sent a Tweet with a homophobic remark out. They ended his Twitter life on the spot. It blows my mind that the Jets didn't get Kane off Twitter immediately.

Then there's the mess with coach Claude Noel.

The one thing that stands out as troublesome is his treatment of head coach Claude Noel last season. Noel was on a thin branch, Kane knew this, and he went ahead and challenged the coach's authority in the media over a healthy scratch. It was the end of Noel as head coach of the Jets and, regardless of your view of the man as a coach, he didn't deserve Kane's mutiny.

Yes, Kane did call Noel out to the media. Yes, that is wrong. But that situation doesn't materialize in a vacuum. Kane didn't just one day decide to challenge Noel's authority. I get the impression that Noel and Kane had a difficult relationship.

This post from Arctic Ice Hockey late in 2013 shows a few examples of a potential communication issue. The problem is the two players in question showing that they don't know why things are happening.

Noel was asked to respond to Kane's comments about racism on Twitter. He refused to acknowledge anything while noting he had nothing to do with Twitter. It isn't his place to police the Twitter world, but there wasn't much support offered for Kane either.

When a student challenges their authority teachers have it drilled into their heads not to confront the student in a public way because above all else you don't want to draw attention to the situation. You bring those students back into the fold by supporting them, showing them you care about their development, and giving them no reason to want to act out towards you. It doesn't look like that took place, but it certainly could have. If it did and the problems persisted then moving Kane makes even more sense.

From everything that is public record it looks like the situation was handled poorly by both Kane and the Jets. Professional hockey isn't public education, but if you have 30 some odd million dollars invested in a relationship it would make sense to see both make more of a public effort to alleviate the problems given the other unnecessary public comments made.

But hey, hockey. Kane would be a good fit talent-wise. The Stars are looking for top six forwards. Kane is certainly that. He would slot in as the Stars number two left wing behind Jamie Benn. As of now who knows who he would play with though. The Stars seem certain to acquire a second line center relatively soon. If they were able to bring Kane into the fold prior to July 1 hand picking a center to play with him could have some positive benefits.

Structurally the Stars have a well respected administration. Jim Nill and Lindy Ruff are among the most respected professionals in the sport. If they believe in the talent they have demonstrated the ability to handle personalities like that of Kane. Bumps in the road would likely happen from time to time, but their ability to build relationships could come in handy with a player like Kane.

Young talented players aren't given away unless their team just wants to be done with them. The Jordan Staal trade immediately comes to mind. He was traded at 24 for a package including a top 10 pick, a good defensive prospect, and a roster player. This is likely the type of package it will take to pry Kane away from the Jets. The team that thinks it can get more offense out of Kane will pay it without thinking because he has shown to be a valuable even strength scorer. Could it be the Stars?