Evander Kane is as polarizing as he is talented. Few players have the unique package of skill and grit that the Winnipeg Jets winger does — he’s named after Evander Holyfield after all — nor do other players have the controversy surrounding them like Kane does. Given Winnipeg’s lack of a playoff berth in three years since moving from Atlanta, full scale changes are in line this offseason. While trading a talented player such as Kane is a risky move, sometimes it is what is best for everybody. Trading Kane could net the Jets a quality NHL goalie which given their atrocious play at the position in recent years could drastically improve their win totals. A change of scenery would also benefit Kane as he as not been without controversy in Winnipeg.
In 2012 at the age of 20, Kane netted 30 goals and was plus-11 on an otherwise subpar team as he looked to be on track to stardom. That summer, however, it all began to unravel for the former Vancouver Giant, as off and on the ice woes came to the forefront. After signing a massive extension mere hours before the league locked out, Kane went to Russia to play in the KHL during the lockout. After recording one measly goal in 12 games with Dynamo Minsk, Kane was sent home as rumors about his lack of conditioning and anything resembling effort swirled around the winger.
When he got back to North America it didn’t get any better as during the most heated exchanges of the lockout Kane was in Las Vegas tweeting picturing of himself holding a “phone” of $100 bills (that surely totaled more than annual income of an average American or Canadian family) to “call” boxer Floyd Mayweather. When play resumed, Kane’s play was not at its pre-lockout level and the Jets again missed the playoffs. This year after another playoff-less season a change of scenery is what is best for Kane.
Two teams that come to mind immediately are the Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings, as they have veteran groups to help Kane mature on and off the ice. Just for starters, Kane played with Milan Lucic in the WHL and has admired (pending free agent) Jarome Iginla since he was a kid. The two star wingers coupled with the likes of Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and Boston’s other veteran leaders would show Kane how to act like and become a winner. The Bruins can also offer the Jets their choice of top AHL goalies Niklas Svedberg or Malcolm Subban to help Winnipeg address the position. Agitating winger and former Stanley Cup champ Brad Marchand would also likely be in play as well.
Likewise Los Angeles has a pending free agent in Marian Gaborik, and if he leaves they would have a gaping hole in their top-six forwards. And the Kings, like the Bruins, have a championship pedigree and players such as Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Dustin Brown who are born leaders to show Kane how to transform from a good player on a bad team to an integral part of a championship contender. The Kings can offer the Jets rookie goalie Martin Jones, who came on strong in Jonathan Quick’s mid-season absence, as well as a mix of young wingers and draft picks.
As the Jets look to further distance themselves from their Atlanta days, sending Kane to another team may be the best thing for everyone. With a potential franchise defenseman in Jacob Trouba and Mark Scheifele looking like a potential All-Star, the team needs to address other needs. Teams will be lining up to trade for Kane, and it would behoove the Jets to nab a young, capable goaltender as well as some organizational depth. It would also benefit Kane to go to a team where he could be mentored by world class players and winners to help achieve his amazing potential. I see no reason why such a trade cannot be beneficial to the Jets, their trading partner and most importantly Evander Kane. Such a move would help all parties involved in the long and short term, making it the rare trade where there are no “losers”.