This summer, some big name hockey players are set to hit the free agent market. No one is bigger than John Tavares, who we will watch closely. Evander Kane is another big name teams will think about to bolster their team's offense.
Kane has a checkered past. He has had his run ins with the law, and he has been a locker room nightmare, specifically in Winnipeg. Evander Kane comes with a lot of history, and that will cause some teams to stay away from him come July.
But Evander Kane undoubtedly bring offense with him wherever he goes. Yes, he doesn't score in the top 10 or 15 goal scorers, but he will consistently score goals for your hockey team.
Since being traded to the lowly Buffalo Sabres before the 2015-16 season, Evander Kane has 75 goals, good for 36th in the NHL. That averages 25 goals per season, a very respectful number. This is same number of goals as T.J. Oshie over that span, and more than guys like Brandon Saad or Blake Wheeler. You can argue that Kane has a poor history as a teammate, but it cannot be argued he brings the offense.
On a Buffalo Sabres team the last three years, Kane actually had decent possession stats. He was third on the team over those three season with a 49.79% unblocked shot attempts percentage. That's better than solid two-way forward Ryan O'Reilly on the same team.
I said that the Buffalo Sabres are a bad team. They currently sit in last place in the NHL this season. Last season, they finished 26th. The previous season, Kane's first with the team, Buffalo finished 23rd. The Sabres just haven't been good in several seasons.
You might think that Kane has contributed to the struggles of the Sabres, but consider last place finish the season between Evander joined the team, and I don't think you can expect his presence to reduce his team's chances of winning too much. Kane also is second on the team in goals since joining the Sabres with 68 goals.
There will be a market for Kane, even if some teams will shy away from a player with a questionable history. The question is who will be interested. The San Jose Sharks would definitely be interested in bringing back a scorer like Evander Kane.
Since joining the Sharks, Kane has 12 points in 12 games. He has seriously strengthened the Sharks offense since the trade deadline. Before the trade, the Sharks were averaging 2.83 goals/game. Since trading for Kane, that number is 4.17. He would obviously be a welcome contributor next season, especially if Joe Thornton returns next season.
Other teams struggling for offense might be interested in Evander Kane. The Dallas Stars, who struggle mightally to get secondary scoring, might be an option. Teams like the New Jersey Devils or Los Angeles Kings might be interested in Kane's services.
The market value for a player like Kane seems pretty simple to figure out. T.J. Oshie might be a good comparable. Oshie has 75 goals and 149 points in 217 games over the last three seasons. Kane has 75 goals and 130 points over that time. Oshie makes $5.750 million a season on a deal he signed over this past summer.
T.J. Oshie was 31 when he signed that contract, but Evander Kane will be 27 to star t next season. That is likely to generate a little bit more cash for Kane, who should contribute more offensively over the next couple of years due to his youth and lack of mileage compared to Oshie.
Scoring forwards Milan Lucic, Andrew Ladd, and Kyle Okposo might be better comparables. These forwards were closer to Kane when they signed long-term contracts in unrestricted free agency. These wingers are making between $5.500 and $6.000 million a season. This seems to be a good target for Evander Kane.
I think you can be comfortable with around $6 million a season for a scoring winger like Evander Kane. I think the Sharks remain a strong contender to retain Kane's services, but don't be shocked if there are a number of different suitors this summer. Look for Kane to sign with a team in a smaller market so he can remain out of a lot of the NHL spotlight. I would image his days in a Canadian market are over.