Over the Olympic break, I’m doing a daily review of one or several Chicago Blackhawks players and giving out grades based on their performance during the 2013-14 season. Today, we examine Patrick Kane.
Kane has picked up where he left off last year, continuing to produce above a point-per-game pace. Barring a surprise, he’ll easily surpass his current career high in goals (30) and has a very good chance at matching or exceeding his career high in points (88).
Kane’s offensive numbers become even more impressive when one considers the relative lack of talent that he’s had to play with. Chicago’s nominal “first liners” in Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp have all been together for the vast majority of the 2013-14 season. The second line, then, has been purely Kane’s to carry; he has been saddled repeatedly with the ineffective Michal Handzus, the inexperienced Brandon Pirri and the inconsistent Kris Versteeg. Kane’s lone quality linemate has been Brandon Saad, but he has been off of Kane’s line as often as he has been on it.
Thus, the 2013-14 season has been the best offensive year of Kane’s career. Still, since an incredible run of 42 points in 27 games that spanned more than two months, he has slowed down significantly.
Defensively, Kane has taken a sizable leap forward. His effort on the backcheck is much better than it ever has been, and he plays much deeper in his own zone than he ever used to; that is to say, Kane no longer regularly leaves the defensive zone before the puck does. He will never be a great own-zone player, but the improvement is nevertheless promising.
Final Verdict: A. Earlier in the year his play merited an A+, but the recent downturn in production takes that out of the equation.