While the Chicago Blackhawks have been terrible this season, forward Patrick Kane has been an absolute star. We know he’s the Most Valuable Player on the team, but he should be MVP of the league, too.
Lots of positives narratives are getting lost in the sea of negative ones for the Chicago Blackhawks. Earlier this week, I wrote about the resurgence of Jonathan Toews this season. Collin Delia has emerged as the possible goalie of the future. Dylan Strome is showing signs of why he’s the 3rd overall pick of the 2015 draft since arriving in Chicago.
One of the biggest narratives that we’re not mentioning all that often is Patrick Kane‘s MVP-worthy season.
Sure, it sounds a little bit crazy when you think about how bad the team is. The Blackhawks are 28th in the league in points (41), dead last in regulation wins (18), second to last in goal differential (-34), last in penalty kill percentage (74.15), and 27th in save percentage (.894). It’s difficult to focus on the individual success of a single player when the team as a whole is awful.
But Kane’s season needs to be recognized.
He has 29 goals and 42 assists for 71 points in 50 games. He leads the Blackhawks in all three of those categories. Kane is recording 0.58 goals per game, 0.84 assists per game, and 1.42 points per game. If he continues on these paces, he’ll end the season with around 47 goals, 68 assists, and 115 points, all of which would be career-highs for him. His previous career-highs are 46 goals, 60 assists, and 106 points, all of which he set in his MVP season in 2015-2016.
Kane averages 22:08 of ice time per night, second on the Blackhawks behind Duncan Keith and the most among forwards. He’s recorded a point on 45.5% of the team’s 156 goals. He is an essential member of the Blackhawks’ power play, tallying a goal or an assist on 23 of the team’s 31 power-play goals.
Those stats sound ridiculously good when you look at the scoring on the Blackhawks. So how do his stats compare to the rest of the league?
As of the time I’m writing this article, he’s fifth in the league in points (71). That’s just seven points behind Nikita Kucherov, who is first in points and was voted as the Hart Trophy winner in the PHWA’s Midseason Awards with Johnny Gaudreau and Connor McDavid finishing second and third. Only one player ahead of Kane in points is not on a playoff team. I bet you all can guess who that is.
Additionally, Kane is tied for fifth in the league in goals with McDavid and Gabriel Landeskog. He’s also eighth in assists along with Mitch Marner. He’s fifth in primary points (31), tied with McDavid and Kucherov. I mentioned earlier how Kane has a point on 45.5% of the Blackhawks’ goals. Only McDavid has a higher percentage than him (50.7%).
Have I pointed out that Patrick Kane is having a career year while the Chicago Blackhawks are having the worst season they’ve had while he’s been on the team?
Some argue the Hart Trophy should only be given to a player if his team makes the playoffs. That’s why Connor McDavid and Claude Giroux didn’t even receive nominations last season while Taylor Hall, Anze Kopitar, and Nathan MacKinnon did. But isn’t the Hart Trophy the Most Valuable Player award of the NHL by definition?
The NHL’s official website says so:
"The Hart Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association in all NHL cities at the end of the regular season."
I’d make the argument that Patrick Kane is one of the most valuable players to his, if not the most valuable, in the entire league.
As fantastic as Nikita Kucherov is, the Tampa Bay Lightning are in first place in the NHL and they have two other players – Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos – in the top 20 in scoring. Johnny Gaudreau is also great, but the Flames have three other players – Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm, and Matthew Tkachuk – in the top 20. Even Connor McDavid, who the PHWA voted third for the Hart in their Midseason Awards, has a teammate (Leon Draisaitl) in the top 20 in scoring.
The next closest Chicago Blackhawks player to Kane in terms of points is Jonathan Toews, who I mentioned earlier is having a bounce-back season. He’s only 36th in the league in scoring with 48 points, 31 places and 23 points behind Kane.
Patrick Kane also has the opportunity to win the Ted Lindsay Award, which is given to the “most outstanding player” as voted on by other players in the league. It’s similar to the Hart Trophy but, for some reason, has less worth. He won the award in 2016 when he also won the Hart and the Art Ross.
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In my opinion, if all continues to go well for him and he keeps scoring, Kane should be the winner of the Hart Trophy this season. How can anyone look at him, then look at the Chicago Blackhawks and this horrific year, and say he’s not the most valuable player to his team? Without Kane, the Blackhawks would be in a much deeper hole than they already are.