Remember all of those rumors and suggestions about how the Chicago Blackhawks could or should trade Patrick Kane? If you listened to some that follow this team, Kane was destined to leave Chicago in a Ryan Miller swap.
All of that now seems like a distant memory.
Kane is off to an absolutely fantastic start. Like, a Hart Trophy kind of start. And that’s not hyperbole by any means. If there’s another player right now that is playing like he deserves the award for Most Valuable Player more than Kane does, please point him out.
They say that Kane’s time in Switzerland during the NHL lockout changed him for the better. Made him more fit and a more mature player overall. Based off of the results through the first 11 games of the season, it’s safe to say that that analysis holds true.
Kane already has 18 points on the season. Which means that he’s on pace for about 78 in a 48-game season. Those point totals have him second in the league behind Thomas Vanek, who is off to a strong start of his own.
In just one game this season, Kane has finished the tilt with a minus rating. In that game, he still had two assists. Whether it’s putting the puck in the back of the net or dishing it off to either Patrick Sharp or Dave Bolland, both of whom are reaping the benefits of playing next to Kane as far as their point totals are concerned, Kane has been dominant.
Even looking at his play on the ice, with no knowledge of what he’s doing on the stat sheet, you can tell how much better Kane looks out there. Last season, it was clear that he was trying to do too much with the puck on his stick. That transition to center probably didn’t help much.
This year, he’s been miles ahead of 2011-2012 as far as his consistency goes. He’s nearly impossible to stop in the offensive zone. He’s so quick, and potentially even quicker when he has the puck on his stick. He’s taking his opportunities to shoot, and if they’re not there, he’s passing it off, probably with some absurdly good spin-o-rama deal.
After a couple of years of questions about whether or not he had peaked and if his partying ways made him more of a liability than an asset, it’s pretty clear that those questions have completely vanished this season. Kane is playing at as high a level as any player in the entire league.
At this rate, it would be very surprising to see Kane not work his way into the discussion for the Hart. He’s not carrying the Blackhawks, because several players are playing at a sky high level (including Jonathan Toews). But Kane has been the best player on the best team in the league early on. It’s been something to watch.