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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    Following ‘disastrous’ effort, Stars lose Honka to injury

    Lindy Ruff
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    Dallas only surrendered two goals in last night’s loss to Calgary — not the markings of a terrible defensive night.

    But in many ways, it was exactly that.

    Head coach Lindy Ruff called the second period “disastrous.” The Morning-News wrote the number of high-quality chances Dallas surrendered was “almost shocking.” And Julius Honka, one of the club’s brightest young d-man prospects, suffered an upper-body injury that will force him to miss the next few games.

    Tough times in Dallas.

    The Honka injury will throw the defense into further arrears. Ruff has spent most of this season juggling the group, with mainstays like Dan Hamhuis and John Klingberg getting parked in the press box as healthy scratches. Stephen Johns has been in and out — which included a stint in the American League — while the likes of Esa Lindell, Patrik Nemeth and Jamie Oleksiak have been platooned as well.

    The Stars were forced to finish last night’s game with just five blueliners, though Honka’s injury isn’t believed to be serious. Dallas plays next on Thursday night at home against Nashville, then heads out for a back-to-back road set — Saturday in Philly, and Sunday in Chicago.

    Related: What has happened to the Dallas Stars?

     

     

    After a slow start, the Preds have really turned it around

    Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban (76), center, celebrates with Filip Forsberg (9), of Sweden, Kevin Fiala (56), of Switzerland, and Mattias Ekholm (14), of Sweden, after Subban scored a goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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    The Nashville Predators are still outside the playoff picture in the Western Conference, but they’re very clearly putting a slow start behind them.

    The Preds beat Colorado, 4-3, last night in Nashville. They are now 9-4-1 since beginning the season 3-5-3, and they are winning with the kind of puck-possession game that many expected from them.

    Via Puck on Net, here are the top 10 teams in score-adjusted Corsi over the last 10 games:

    preds

    That is some excellent company the Preds are not only keeping, but leading. The Blue Jackets, right below them, are the hottest team in the NHL. The Penguins are the defending Stanley Cup champs. The Capitals won the Presidents’ Trophy last season. The Sharks won the Western Conference.

    Though strong puck-possession numbers don’t always translate into wins — just ask the Carolina Hurricanes — they typically lead to good results over the long run. The one thing that can sink a strong possession team is poor goaltending, but Pekka Rinne (11-5-4, .926) has been mostly solid this season.

    The Preds are also getting good production from their big offseason trade acquisition, defenseman P.K. Subban, who has 17 points, including seven goals, in 25 games.

    “I just try to do my job and just keep it simple, try to put the puck on net,” Subban told The Tennessean. “Sometimes you’ve got to get some bounces, and you only get those bounces when you put pucks at the net.”

    The Preds are averaging 31.6 shots per game, the sixth most in the NHL behind Pittsburgh, Boston, Toronto, Edmonton, and Philadelphia.

    Next up for Nashville is a date with the Stars in Dallas tomorrow. That’s a huge game for both Central Division teams. The Stars lost again last night, falling 2-1 to the surging Flames.

    standings

    Report: Leafs win arbitration case with Cowen

    OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 21: Jared Cowen #2 of the Ottawa Senators prepares for a faceoff against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Canadian Tire Centre on January 21, 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
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    The Toronto Maple Leafs have won their arbitration case with Jared Cowen, who will remain bought out.

    TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported the news today. It is a significant loss for Cowen, the 25-year-old defenseman who came to the Leafs in February as part of the Dion Phaneuf trade.

    From Sportsnet’s story before the ruling:

    At issue is whether Cowen was healthy enough to have the final year of his contract bought out by the Leafs last summer. A lengthy section of the CBA is devoted to “procedures for determining fitness to play,” and they include a player’s right to pursue a second medical opinion beyond what is provided by the team.

    That information, plus witness testimony and other evidence, will be taken into account by the arbitrator while rendering a decision.

    For Cowen, there is $3-million in salary at stake. That represents somewhere in the neighbourhood of 25 per cent of his career NHL earnings to date – a huge amount given his injury history and diminished future earning potential.

    For the Leafs, it’s significant win. They’ll actually get a $650,000 cap credit this season. Next season, they’ll take a $750,000 hit, and after that their obligations are over.

    If they’d lost, they would’ve lost the credit and assumed a $3.1-million cap hit this season, the final year of Cowen’s contract.

    Sportsnet explains why the Leafs didn’t want to lose:

    That’s a $3.75-million cap swing in total and would almost certainly result in the Leafs invoking long-term injury relief on one of three players – Nathan Horton, Stephane Robidas or Joffrey Lupul – to remain compliant.

    Even though the LTI maneuver would offer immediate relief, it’s something the Leafs hope to avoid since it would increase the size of the cap overage penalty they’ll carry into next season because of performance bonuses expected to be earned by as many as five rookies in their current lineup.

    Cowen had hip surgery after he was bought out. It’s been reported he may not be ready to play until February, assuming he can find a team. He played 37 games for the Senators last season, registering no goals and four assists.

    Related: Lupul to start season on injured reserve, still aims to play again

    No hearing for Taylor Hall after Larsen hit

    NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 06:  Taylor Hall #9 of the New Jersey Devils hits Philip Larsen #63 of the Vancouver Canucks in the second period on December 6, 2016 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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    Devils forward Taylor Hall will avoid supplemental discipline for his big hit on Vancouver’s Philip Larsen, an NHL spokesman has confirmed.

    Midway through New Jersey’s eventual 3-2 win over the Canucks, Hall caught Larsen behind the Vancouver goal with a massive bodycheck, knocking Larsen unconscious. The Danish blueliner was prone on the ice for several seconds before receiving medical attention, and was eventually stretchered off.

    Hall wasn’t penalized on the play.

    Larsen spent the night in a New Jersey-area hospital, per Sportsnet, and is flying to Vancouver today to meet with team doctors.

    Hall said he didn’t regret throwing the hit, but felt awful about the result. He and Larsen do have a history, having briefly played together in Edmonton.

    “I’m looking to make contact there, but I never want to see a guy laying on the ice there like that,” Hall said, per NJ.com. “I only know how to play the game one way, and you’ve got to play it hard. But like I said, I feel terrible.

    “When you see him laying on the ice like that, he’s a former teammate of mine, and I just would have loved to make a hit there and continue the play. I hope he’s OK.”

    Related: The Devils are hanging around, thanks to a great home record