Evander Kane, Unheralded Hero

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Evander Kane
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 12: Evander Kane #9 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates his first goal of the second period against the Anaheim Ducks in Game One of the Western Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center on April 12, 2018 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Since entering the league, few players have been as polarizing as Evander Kane. From the potential superstar to the spoiled brat, Kane has been branded many things in his career. But lately, he has been given a new title: Evander Kane, unheralded hero. It took awhile but it seems that Kane has found a home, despite the long road to get there.

The Road Behind Evander Kane

Atlanta/Winnipeg days

Few players have won so many people over only to lose so many so fast. After entering the league during the 2009-2010 season Kane made an impact, little-by-little. His first season saw him score 14 goals and add 12 assists. Unfortunately, he was playing on a bad Atlanta Thrashers team. So bad in fact that the team moved to Winnipeg just one year later.

His first season in Winnipeg saw him put up his career high in points with 57, including 30 goals. His point production saw the Winnipeg Jets fans fall for the young star. But his first season wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Rumours were flying around that Kane wanted out, and it was hard to deny. He battled periods of being benched by head coach Claude Noel throughout the season. Along with allegations that Kane concussed himself, the season was clearly trying for the then 20-year-old.

Despite all the off-ice issues, the Jets thought Kane was a key man and signed him to a six-year $31.5 million dollar deal. It was a big deal and the Jets were hoping to see more of the 30-goal scoring Kane. What they got was the opposite. Rumours continued to fly and after just three more seasons, which included the lockout, the infamous money phone picture and assault allegations, Kane was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in one of the biggest deals in franchise history.

Kane, Zach Bogosian and Jason Kasdorf were sent to Buffalo for Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux and the St. Louis Blues 2015 first round pick, which they used to select Jack Roslovic. It was the end to an otherwise tumultuous era in Winnipeg history.

On to Buffalo

Kane’s adventures in Buffalo were nothing short of disappointing. The Sabres were hoping to get the 30-goal scorer back, but they got more controversy instead. An arrest after his first season pretty much summed up his Sabres career. Never exceeding the 43-point mark, Kane never reached even the low expectations of many. And with the constant controversies, some thought Kane’s career was going to end in Buffalo.

But this season rolled around and, in the last year of his contract, Kane played his best hockey in Buffalo. He posted 20 goals and 20 assists in 61 games prior to the trade deadline. He looked like a piece for a playoff-bound team. Not a big piece but one that could help. And then he got his wish to leave Buffalo.

The Trade

In what many thought was a good move at the time, the San Jose Sharks acquired Kane for Daniel O’Regan and two conditional draft picks. Not a small price to pay for a perennial underachiever. But what the Sharks got in return was a surprise. Considering the Pittsburgh Penguins made a similar trade by acquiring Phil Kessel for Kasperi Kapanen, a first rounder (later traded to the Anaheim Ducks for Frederik Andersen) and a third- round pick basically. two very different players but high expectations.

Since joining the Sharks though Kane has exceeded everyone’s expectations. He was slotted on the top line with Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi and hasn’t missed a beat. In 17 games since the trade, Kane has scored nine goals and added five assists, producing at a 0.82 point per game pace. Kane’s presence helped the Sharks win 12 of their last 19 games, good enough to get into the playoffs.

Unheralded Hero

For a player with such a checkered past, many thought the Golden Coast of California could be a dangerous spot for Kane. Instead, he has taken the opportunity to be a big-time player. And he has carried this drive into the playoffs. He currently sits tied for fifth in the playoffs with three goals and he sits third on the Sharks for points with four. Not bad for a guy who many thought, was a useless trade piece just earlier this season.

Whether Kane remains in San Jose past the playoffs remains to be seen. After the Sharks sweep of the Ducks, they still may have a long way to go. But one thing is clear if he stays the Sharks may have found a pretty good replacement for the recently departed Patrick Marleau. And one they may be able to keep for a few years. All that for two picks and O’Regan? Not bad Sharks, not bad at all.

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