With a 4-2 win over the Devils last night, the Winnipeg Jets improved to 11-11-4 and reached the .500 mark for just the second time this season. Leading the charge was 20-year-old Evander Kane, who scored two goals and was named the game’s first star.
The goals were Kane’s 13th and 14th of the season, moving him into a tie for sixth-most in the NHL (he’s on pace for 46) — needless to say, he appears to be in the midst of a breakout campaign.
Not that he’s resting on his laurels or anything.
“I still feel I can be a lot better,” Kane said following the game.“I want to be one of the best players in the league, a dominant player in this league, and this is just the start of that.”
Kane’s ascendancy is great for two reasons. One, he’s one of the league’s most uniquely talented players. He looks slender — boasting a sleek 6-foot-2, 195 pound frame — but plays a power game, highlighted with a fighting ability honed by his father, Perry, a former amateur boxer (hence the name “Evander” — Kane’s named after Real Deal Holyfield.) He doesn’t fight often, but when he does…well, just ask Matt Cooke. Its part of the physical approach that makes Kane so versatile. He can play up and down the lineup, something he first showcased at the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championships.
Two, he’s exactly what the organization needs. When the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg and became Jets, those unfamiliar with the roster took one look and said “this team has no star power.” Which was harsh, but accurate. The two potential stars were captain Andrew Ladd and All-Star defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, but Ladd is more of a heart-and-soul guy and the jury was still out on Byfuglien (and still is, to be honest.) In just his third NHL season, Kane looks like he could be a 35-40 goal scorer, something the franchise hasn’t had since the days of Ilya Kovalchuk.
“Wanting the pressure and always being counted on to score… I’ve always wanted that since I was a pee wee hockey player,” he said. “I like having the puck on my stick. I always feel comfortable when the puck is on my stick because I’m confident in myself.
“This being my third year, it’s a big year for me. I wanted to come in here and make a statement… and continue to make a statement.”