The Winnipeg Jets Have Won the Evander Kane Trade
It’s only been a year and change since the blockbuster deal that threw the hockey world for a loop, and despite young, undeveloped pieces the Jets received, it’s time to say the Jets are emerging as clear victors.
For those unfamiliar or needing a refresher, on February 11th, 2015, the Jets traded Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, and goaltending prospect Jason Kasdorf for Drew Stafford, Tyler Myers, Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux, and St. Louis’ previously acquired first round pick, which was 25th overall (Jets selected Jack Roslovic).
In my eyes the trade breaks down to Bogosian for Myers, and Kane and Kasdorf for Stafford, Armia, Lemieux, and Roslovic.
Let’s take a look.
Bogosian for Myers
Bogosian and Myers were first round picks in the same draft, 2008. Bogosian went third and Myers nine spots later at 12.
I see them in a similar light: they’re both capable top four defencemen, who can contribute as a top pairing defenceman provided they’re not the best defender on the unit. No disrespect to the two, but if they’re your best defenceman, you have some work to do.
Myers has more offensive capability and puck skills, and also uses his reach effectively to shield the puck – whether it be transitioning out of his own zone or joining the rush up ice. Bogosian, conversely, has much less puck skills, but offers a far more physical approach to the game and gets a slight edge in the defensive zone.
Myers gets the advantage for two reasons: he is the more offensively inclined of the two, and with transition being so important in today’s NHL, I’ll take the guy who can rush the puck up ice and aid your forwards in navigating the tight checking netural zone of the NHL. The second is he averages two minutes on both the penalty kill and the power play, while Bogosian only gets one minute for each. Myers has shown a two-way aspect to his game and strong hockey sense to warrant play on both special teams, where Bogosian has not – even on an inexperienced defence core.
Although perhaps not by a drastic amount, the Jets do have the better player in this swap.
Kane and Kasdorf for the rest
How to evaluate Evander Kane? We’re talking about a guy who scored 14 goals, then 19, then 30, then 17 (lockout year), then 19, and 10 in last year’s injury shortened campaign. It’s quite tough to establish any sort of analysis, other than the fact that after scoring 30 goals, he has trended downward ever since. For the year so far, he has 17 in 53 games.
Evander Kane is one of the most overrated assets in the league. Without bringing up any off ice issues, the problem with Evander is that he thinks he’s a sniper when he plainly isn’t.
When I was watching him as a teenager in Atlanta, he had a ferocity and net presence about his game that had to get you excited. He was unproven in the league, and he was doing all he could to prove he belonged; fighting, crease crashing, jarring body checks, you name it. He was playing like a power forward – which is what he’s supposed to be.
After scoring 30 goals in 2012, he got the idea that he’s a sniper.
I say that season is the worst thing that happened to Kane because he began believing his shot was his most dangerous weapon, and not his speed and strength.
Stat folks will be thrilled the whole way when you say he has a 50.19 SAT% on a poor team, but he passes the eye test in no way whatsoever. He loves to use his speed to fly wide – and he gets that opportunity often in every game – but with his limited playmaking and passing abilities he ends up taking tons of shots from outside the dots and from angles that are virtually impossible to score from on the goaltenders of today. So while it looks like he drives play via shots, too many of his attempts are from poor spots or with no support.
Below is an even-strength shot comparison of Evander Kane’s last full season (2013-2014) to Corey Perry in that same year. Kane has stated he can score 50 goals in this league, and Perry had 42 during that year – so Evander should be looking closely. There were no current season charts available.
The blue box mapped on each image highlights just how often Kane is taking shots from the perimeter. Other than right around the goalmouth, it’s the only other large area that shows much heat. Note how Perry’s goalmouth presence extends out right between the hash marks, and Kane has a glaring gap right between the faceoff circles. Until Kane sorts this out, his shot generation is an illusion. He has never displayed enough hockey sense to generate anything useful other than right in front of the net, and if almost 50% of his shots continue to come from the highlighted area, he will continue to be a fast, strong skater who does nothing with his athleticism.
I’m ready to become a believer the moment he can show us he is able to score over 25 goals with some consistency, but until then, Kane is a stronger, faster, and more physical version of Mason Raymond. Blinding speed, no hockey sense, minimal playmaking, and shots from meaningless areas without traffic.
Enough about Kane.
I touched on Drew Stafford’s impact for the Jets here, and other than the fact he’s $1.5 million cheaper than Kane, he also offers a more complete game, which complements the overall makeup of the Jets lineup. Over the next two or three years, before Staff gets too far past his prime, I would rather him than Kane straight up – which makes the juicy prospects the Jets received even better.
Joel Armia, has been probably the most pleasant surprise of the deal. Showing mediocre stats down in the AHL, he has slowly earned the trust of Paul Maurice and is fitting in nicely on the third line with Marko Dano and Adam Lowry. After netting just 16 SOG in his first 18 games, over his last 13 games he has garnered 24 shots, good for 1.85 shots per game. More importantly, he’s been a driving force through the neutral zone, using his soft hands and long reach to maneuver through the opposition’s defences and gain the zone. He should be a solid NHL player for years to come.
Brendan Lemieux is a power forward who is showing everyone he has a real nose for the net. We all understand it’s just junior, but scoring 31 goals in 40 games is a pace many top picks don’t accomplish, so it’s clear he understands how to place pucks into a 6′ x 4′ net. With Lemieux it’s a matter of time before he becomes an NHL player, it’s just discovering at what level he is able to translate his rampant junior goal scoring ability. His ceiling is a goal scoring second line winger, but no one will be surprised if he ends up becoming a reliable third liner, either.
The late first round pick the Jets acquired was converted into a low risk center in Jack Roslovic. While the perfect scenario for the Ohio born center is a second line pivot, he figures to become a third line offensively inclined center – capable of working the power play but not a complete enough player to warrant top six consideration. He currently has 24 points in his first 32 games of University Hockey, so it will be interesting to see how he improves on those numbers during his next year of development.
The final piece the Sabres acquired in addition to Bogosian and Kane is young goaltending prospect Jason Kasdorf. He started off as a feel good draft story having played his minor hockey in Winnipeg before later being drafted by the club in the 6th round. With top goaltending prospects Connor Hellebuyck and Eric Comrie already dominating the minors, it was a case of the Jets dealing from a position of strength. If all goes well with the 6’3″ tender, the Sabres could have themselves a backup goaltender for Robin Lehner – however he is far from a sure bet.
The Jets got the better defenceman in the deal with Tyler Myers, in the short term, Stafford has matched Kane’s output while also providing veteran leadership on a young team, and the future assets the Jets received have only sweetened the deal. Armia figures to be a Jet for a long time, Lemieux is currently forecasting an NHL trajectory, and Roslovic is still a few years away but almost undoubtedly will compete for an NHL job in the future.
If Evander Kane proves us all wrong and displays a more potent goalscoring capability, we may have to reconsider this whole deal. Until then, however, Evander is a perimeter shot generation master – and the Jets are clear victors.