Believe it or not, this was a trying season for the 29-year-old former first overall pick. After two phenomenal offensive seasons alongside Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov, Patrick Kane slipped down to human status. This was a season that Kane has not been used to in quite some time. He still led the Blackhawks in total points and assists, coming in second in goals to Alex DeBrincat. Unfortunately these numbers, while still pretty good, were nowhere near the offensive production that Blackhawks fans saw of Kane when Panarin was on the ice. He’s still averaging close to a point-per-game, but the fact of the matter was Kane himself considered this season a trying one. He’s his own worst enemy, but there really wasn’t much more that Kane could do.
He still has a stable lineman in Center Nick Schmaltz, and fans are going to be clamoring for a line combination of Kane, Schmatlz and DeBrincat. That line would have the potential to be another utterly dominate line that could be reminiscent of the 2015-16 line when Kane won the Hart Trophy (MVP for the NHL) and Panarin won the Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year). This year, Kane appeared to rely more on his disgustingly good skills as opposed to pure speed. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Kane did experience some lengthy goal droughts.
That can be chalked up to just about how bad the season for the Blackhawks overall was. Kane is still going to lead the Blackhawks in points, assists and most likely goals again. He’s going to be their main source of production, and a line combination of Kane, Schmaltz and DeBrincat would definitely bring back some good memories. However, there is going to be one question that Blackhawks fans might be asking themselves for quite some time; was it Kane that truly elevated Panarin or vice-versa?
Why There Is Hope: As mentioned above, Kane is still far and away the best offensive weapon Chicago has. He’s still going to be good for 30 goals, 50 assists and at least 82 points in a season. That’s right along his career line of 1.00 points-per-game. No team will ever say no to that form of production, but Hawks fans know that he has a completely other level. Having a stable center is the first logical step, and Schmaltz is going to fulfill that role for quite some time.
If Coach Quenneville really wants Chelsea Dagger on repeat, he will throw in DeBrincat on that line. Kane has proven time and time again that he can play with just about anyone. It was a trying season for the winger, but there is no reason to think that he won’t bounce back…right?
Causes for Concern: Yes, Kane is still far and away the best offensive player for the Blackhawks. But even he wasn’t immune to the disappointing overall season. Kane experienced a drastic drop-off in scoring, going from his 106-point Hart-Trophy winning season in 2015-16, to 89 points the following year, to only 76 this season. Most of that can be attributed to Panarin being traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Unfortunately, the other issue is that Kane will be turning 30 during the next season. It’s possible that he’s getting to the point where he won’t be able to produce the absolutely staggering numbers that Blackhawks have seen in the past. It’s doubtful, but it’s possible. Kane is also used to scoring in bunches, but this season he experienced some growing pains as well. Before this season, Kane’s longest streak of not scoring was four games. He hit that number and also had a five-game scoreless streak. It’s most likely the result of a trying season overall, but Kane not scoring will always be alarming.
Final Thoughts: Look, Patrick Kane is still one of the greatest hockey players in the world. He’s still going to lead the Blackhawks in scoring and he’s on the NHL’s top 100 players list for a reason. He’s finally getting a sense of line stability, which started when he was on a line with Anisimov and Panarin. Now he’s going to have Schmatlz and possibly DeBrincat. But there is absolutely no denying that Kane misses Panarin.
The way those two performed on the ice was absolutely magical as they knew were the other was going to be at all times. Those two seasons really set the standard for what Kane can do, and there is no question he is itching to bring it back. It wouldn’t be remotely surprising if Kane comes back and scores 30+ goals and has 50+ assists again, especially considering that Schmaltz is still growing and the shooting prowess of DeBrincat. Kane is going to be fine…right?