Evander Kane: 'I know I can score 50'
Odd questions are frequently asked about the future of Winnipeg Jets power forward Evander Kane, such as: "Is Kane happy in Winnipeg?" or "Does he have maturity issues?" or "Can he put it all together this season?"
Too often questions about Kane's performance are ignored altogether, but "Just how good can he be?" is a pretty central query for the Jets.
At 23 years old, Kane - a former fourth overall pick of the Jets back when they were the Atlanta Thrashers - already has a 30-goal season under his belt. Among all regular NHL forwards over the past three seasons, Kane has been the 22nd most efficient even-strength goal scorer and the league's single most prolific volume shooter at five-on-five.
Overwrought character concerns and the harsh din of criticism aside, Kane is about to enter his scoring prime, and there's a good deal of evidence that suggests he's on the verge of developing into a bona fide elite winger in the NHL. That likelihood might be lost on the hockey-watching public, but it isn't lost on Kane, who is extremely confident headed into the 2014-15 season.
"I’m happy to be a Winnipeg Jet right now, I’m looking forward to camp and looking forward to having a good start to the season - all things I’ve said before," Kane told the Winnipeg Sun. "I said at the draft when I got drafted (fourth overall in 2009) that I can score 50 and I know I can score 50. Playing with the right guys and playing with those guys consistently and obviously staying healthy is a big part of it too. The sky is the limit."
Kane's boxcar statistics haven't been impressive in recent campaigns, and he's only surpassed 50 points in a season on one occasion in his career so far. Still, his overconfidence isn't entirely unfounded. Kane has the upside, pedigree and peripheral numbers of a super elite power forward. If he can stay healthy, get enough power-play time, play at the top of the Jets lineup and get a bounce or two, 50 goals isn't out of the question.
If Kane can continue to drive play and generate shots at the rate he's managed in recent years those bounces will come, which might help put to rest all the sideshow noise that has overshadowed the talented winger since his club moved to Winnipeg three years ago.
[H/T Pro Hockey Talk]