Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to focusing on a player coming off a breakthrough year to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the San Jose Sharks.
San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson made one of the best moves at this year’s trade deadline when he acquired Evander Kane from the Buffalo Sabres. All Wilson had to give up was prospect Daniel O’Reagan, a conditional first-rounder and a conditional fourth-rounder. It was a low-risk move that paid off in the end.
When the deal was made, many people saw it as a short-term way for the Sharks to get better. After all, they could’ve just let Kane walk in free agency at the end of the season if they didn’t like what they saw. When Kane got to San Jose, he had 20 goals and 20 assists in 61 games (0.66 points-per-game). In 17 games with the Sharks, he managed to up his scoring rate to 0.82 points-per-game. It’s a smaller sample size, but he put up nine goals and 14 points in 17 contests.
The 27-year-old added four goals and one assist in the Sharks’ run to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Wilson had obviously seen enough, as he handed Kane a seven-year, $49 million contract extension ($7 million AAV).
“It’s good to be wanted, and I wanted them just as much as they wanted me,” Kane said after he signed the contract. “The fact that we were able to work out a deal so quickly reflects that. Obviously when you’re a free agent you have the option to do what you want, and I made it clear to them that I didn’t want to go anywhere else. They reflected those same remarks back toward me.”
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The fact that this marriage is off to a good start is positive. But now, Kane has to make sure he keeps it going. There’s no denying that he’s a talented hockey player. He’s big, he can skate and he can score. There aren’t too many players that have those tools at their disposal. The biggest with him is consistency.
In a contract year, in a new city, he was able to perform. Now, there’s no change in address coming, he doesn’t have to earn a new contract so he can’t allow complacency to set it. There’s going to be a ton of pressure on his shoulders now that he’s the highest paid forward on the team.
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Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.