How Patrick Kane compares to the best American-born forwards in NHL history

kaneUSA.jpgWith the good old U.S. of A. on the minds of many, I thought I’d put together a couple posts on American hockey. Obviously, when thinking of red-white-and-blue hockey, it’s natural to think of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Looking at the roster for the ’06 Olympic team that failed to impress versus a young, scrappy ’10 team that overachieved its way to a silver medal, it’s obvious that there was a passing of the torch. The old stars including Jeremy Roenick and Mike Modano made way for young up-and-comers such as Patrick Kane and Zach Parise.

If I had to pick one young American forward who might be the next big thing, it would be Kane. It’s been quite a year for the young player, as he went from the ugly taxi cab scandal to NHL ’10 cover star to Olympic near-glory and finally a Stanley Cup winning overtime goal. As much as he’s been through (both good and bad), Kane looks like he’s just begun what could be an outstanding NHL career.

In fact, I couldn’t help but ask myself if he could end up being the best American forward, ever. How does he compare to the last generation of American stars at this point in his career? Much like when I compared Mike Green to some of the all-time highest scoring NHL defensemen, let’s take a look at how Kane stacks up to some of the best American-born scorers in their first three full seasons.

Patrick Kane

Regular Season (three seasons)
Games Played: 244
Goals: 76
Assists: 154
Points: 230
Plus/Minus: +9

Playoffs (two playoffs)
GP: 38
G: 19
A: 23
P: 42
+/-: -11

Notes: Although Kane’s plus/minus seems to plummet in the postseason, he actually scores at more than a point-per-game pace. Most players see a dip in point production when they jump from the regular season to the playoffs, but Kane excels (at least numbers-wise) when the games get bigger.

Jeremy Roenickroenickonsharks.jpg

(Note: he played 20 games in the 88-89 season, but I’ll start his stats off from 89-90 to make for a more comprehensive comparison.)

Regular Season (three seasons)
GP: 237
G: 120
A: 143
PTS: 263
+/-: 63

Playoffs (three appearances)
GP: 44
G: 26
A: 22
PTS: 48
+/-: 12

Notes: Kane and Roenick have some interesting similarities. They both have plenty of personality and can be (mostly playful) troublemakers. They both made a splash at the NHL level just about immediately, and with the Chicago Blackhawks to boot. When you consider the fact that Roenick came into the league in a high flying era, I’d say that his slight statistical advantages just about wash out.

Pat LaFontaine

(Much like Roenick, I’m going to leave out his abbreviated rookie year when he played in 15 games during the 83-84 season.)

Regular Season (three seasons)
GP: 212
G: 87
A: 90
P: 177
+/-: 15

Playoffs (three appearances)
GP: 26
G: 7
A: 9
P: 16
+/-: -11

Notes: Advantage, Kane. LaFontaine surely must have been at least on Buffalo-native Patrick Kane’s radar when he was growing up, but Kane is well ahead of the great American forward at this point in his career. LaFontaine’s career didn’t truly take off until his fifth pro season, but by then, the only thing that could stop him were concussion problems.

Mike Modanomodanostar.jpg

(Note: He played in two playoff games at age 18, but we’ll start from full seasons the next year.)

Regular Season (three seasons)
GP: 235
G: 90
A: 126
P: 216
+/-: -14

Playoffs (three appearances)
GP: 37
G: 12
A: 15
P: 27
+/-: -8

Notes: Advantage, Kane, again.

When comparing Patrick Kane to some of the best American-born forwards in NHL history, the young player bests or equals his predecessors. At least at the three-year mark.

You might give Jeremy Roenick the slight edge – especially since he was a more physical player – but Kane is ahead of Modano and LaFontaine at this point in their careers.

So, perhaps this is the biggest question: is Kane primed to be the best American forward … ever? Could he even end up ahead of Modano on the all-time U.S.-born point scoring list? I’m not sure, but it will be fun to find out.

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    Devils sign d-man Michael Kapla

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    The New Jersey Devils have signed UMass-Lowell defenseman Michael Kapla to a two-year, entry-level contract.

    Kapla, 22, had three goals and 27 assists in 41 games this season. He’ll report to the Devils and likely burn the first year of his ELC by making his NHL debut sometime very soon.

    The Devils host the Winning Jets tonight. They’re in Brooklyn Friday to play the Islanders.

    Kapla spent four years in college. Per the Devils’ press release, he “most recently captained the River Hawks to the 2017 Hockey East Championship. He also received Hockey East All-Tournament Team honors and was named to the Hockey East Second All-Star Team.”

     

    Report: Penn State sophomore Pedrie leaves school, signs with Rangers

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    For the second straight day, the Rangers have landed an undrafted college free agent.

    Vince Pedrie, a sophomore blueliner that just wrapped his sophomore campaign at Penn State, has reportedly agreed to terms with the Rangers on an entry-level deal, per the Collegian.

    Citing a post from Pedrie’s Facebook account confirming the move, the Collegian reports the 23-year-old is the youngest Nittany Lion in program history to leave the team for the professional ranks.

    It comes after Pedrie emerged as a “dominant offensive force” for the club last season, racking up 30 points in 39 games while helping Penn State qualify for its first NCAA championship appearance.

    As mentioned above, this is the second intriguing prospect to join the Blueshirts in as many days. On Monday, University of Minnesota senior Vinni Lettieri agreed to join the team after an impressive four-year career with the Gophers.

    Hjalmarsson says ‘Hawks are ‘too comfortable’ after rough trip through Florida

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    When most people take trips to Florida, it’s to get away from the stress and struggle of everyday life. But it’s safe to say that this edition of the Chicago Blackhawks won’t want to remember their visit to the Sunshine State.

    The ‘Hawks dropped an embarrassing 7-0 decision to the Florida Panthers on Saturday night before blowing a 4-1 lead in last night’s game against the Bolts (they eventually lost 5-4 in OT).

    They still have a comfortable lead atop the Central Division (eight points up on the struggling Wild), but they aren’t satisfied with their play.

    “It’s getting close to the end here and we’re getting a little bit too comfortable maybe,” defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said, per the Chicago Tribune. “As soon as you do that, you’re going to lose games … At the same time I’m glad that we were playing like this before the playoffs so we can make some adjustments.

    “Eighty-two games is a long season. It’s a mental grind more than anything. As soon as you’re not there 100 percent, it’s going to show in the scoring.”

    As Hjalmarsson said, six games is still enough time to figure things out for Chicago. They just won’t have the luxury of facing easy opponents when they do try to sort out their struggles.

    They’ll play the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Wednesday before returning home to play Columbus and Boston. They’ll then head back on the road to close out the season in Denver, Anaheim and Los Angeles.

    PHT Morning Skate: This season’s top five breakout performers

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    Jake Allen wore a special U.S. Navy tribute mask during last night’s game against the Coyotes. It’s really a gorgeous mask. “The blue and yellow complements our colors well, and it’s a great tribute to the Blue Angel pilots who have the honor of flying and performing across the country.” (NHL.com/Blues)

    –With every NHL season, there are surprises and disappointments. Rather than focus on the negatives, The Hockey News breaks down the top five breakout seasons in 2016-17. At the top of the list is Panthers forward Jonathan Marchesault, who is shockingly closing in on a 30-goal season. Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson and Boston’s David Pastrnak have also made names for themselves. (The Hockey News)

    –It’s no secret that NHLers are forced to travel a lot, but each team makes the most of their road trips in different ways. For example, Kevin Shattenkirk and the Capitals enjoy fine dining when they’re away from home.  “It’s so easy to go to the top names or the ones that you hear of all the time, but when you go to a lot of these cities, the food scenes everywhere now are really starting to improve. A lot of my friends naturally are foodies. They bring me to some of their places. Even just a simple Google, most of the times, the first two things that come up are Yelp or TripAdvisor, and I usually go a couple down and look at a local newspaper, if they have the best spots to eat in 2017. I like to focus on those.” (Washington Post)

    –The Tampa Bay Lightning found themselves down 4-1 in lasts night’s game against Chicago, but they were able to battle back and win in a thrilling overtime period. You can check out the highlights from that game by clicking the video at the top of the page.

    –Tonight will mark the first time that Jordie and Jamie Benn play against each other since the trade that saw the older Benn head to Montreal. The Canadiens took the opportunity to ask their Benn some questions about what it was like growing up with his brother. Here’s a sample question: “Of the two of you, which one is Peyton and who is Eli?” (NHL.com/Canadiens)

    –This year’s rookie class with Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, Zach Werenski, Mitch Marner and Matt Murray is one of the best in recent memory, but which other freshmen classes stand out? BarDown takes a look at the top five rookie classes since 2000. (BarDown)

    –Capitals forward Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky had some fun during picture day. The two players showed up to the rink with some pretty poofy hair. There’s no point in me trying to explain it when you can see the pictures for yourself. (NHL.com)