According to Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press, the Winnipeg Jets have submitted a six-year, $29 million contract offer to Evander Kane. This report comes less than a week after Lawless reported that the two sides were talking and coming up with comparables to model a deal after.
The term and cap number are not that far off from what comparables John Tavares and Phil Kessel got from their clubs. In fact, the proposed $4.83 million per year average is lower than Tavares’ $5.5 million and Kessel’s $5.4 million. If Kane agrees to this deal, it’s a big win for the Jets.
At 20 years old, Kane’s third season in the NHL was his best. He put up 30 goals, 27 assists and was a +11. He’s almost 21 and still has a lot to accomplish and is sure to grow into a prolific goal-scorer. I wouldn’t have minded if the Jets threw $6 million per year at him, considering the current market for talent in the league.
Let’s compare the young Kane to 28-year-old Rick Nash, who’s been wasting away with the Columbus Blue Jackets until the New York Rangers traded three players and a draft pick for him yesterday. Since scoring 41 goals in 2008-09, his numbers have declined along with his interest. Last season Nash, who accounts for $7.8 million per year against the cap, scored 30 goals and 29 assists to go along with a wretched -19. Nash is still in his prime years and may be re-energized with a new team, but I wouldn’t him consider him an elite player until he shows he can be again.
Kane has potential to become an elite player and is well worth the contract he’s been offered. If he takes it, not only to the Jets have their star locked in, but they’ll be able to spend more money on building around him. Unlike Columbus’s failure to balance their roster with at least competent talent, the Jets are building a competitive team with inexpensive free agents while developing young talent from within. They are doing their best to foster a winning environment while still trying to build through the draft.
This approach will likely get the most out of Evander Kane and put the Jets in a position to possibly be serious contenders a few years down the road. As long as they keep talent around Kane, he should stay motivated and the Jets won’t have worry about a Nash-like situation in the future.
As promising as things look, Kane still has to put his signature on the contract. He could decline and ask for more, as this contract almost looks too good to be true. However, even if he gets more, it shouldn’t be too much and likely not enough to hamstring the Jets in any way.