Patrick Kane is the best player in the NHL.
As of last season at least.
Kane took home the hardware in 2016 and deservedly so. Being far and beyond better than anyone else that stood as his opposition for the Hart Trophy as league MVP.
The three time Cup champion also has a silver medal (2010 Vancouver games) and the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP in 2013, and will gladly add his new honor to the collection. However, it’s not necessarily what he has done in the past that’s so impressive, it’s what is to come.
What makes Kane so special is his insane ability to seemingly always be in the right place at the right time. Undeniably in possession of the ‘clutch’ gene, Kane has scored 5 overtime game winning goals in the playoffs alone. Two of which (2010,2013) were series winners.
To put that into perspective. Sindey Crosby who has played an additional two seasons than Kane registered his first career playoff overtime goal this post season against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Despite his stature, those who play against Kane quickly realize how much time and space he commands on the ice. Never truly falling into a rhythm is makes it increasingly difficult to stop him. After all, you can defend what you cannot predict.
Regardless of the numerous past accomplishments, his greatest still looms on the horizon. 55 players who were born and raised in the United States were selected by NHL teams at the 2016 draft. A new record.
Auston Matthews highlights the lot of the crew, and it’s interesting to see moving forward how American hockey will be effected by that.
Kane is a bright flash in a sport typically painted in a dull grey. Personality isn’t necessarily in abundance in the NHL so whenever someone dares to step out into the light, fans naturally gravitate.
Unbeknownst to himself Kane has, to an extent, ushered in a new era of hockey. All the while, I understand he may not be directly responsible for this, but it’s hard to deny the impact he has had on USA hockey.
Resurging the glory that was once found in a little town called Lake Placid, New York nearly 40 years ago, Kane and company have the opportunity to open doors previously locked shut.
Within the decade, USA hockey will be one of the most dominant forces in the sport. Names like Eichel, Mathews, Seth Jones, Matthew Tkachuk, Noah Hanifin and John Gibson will highlight the group in the years to come.
The group representing team USA at the World Cup of Hockey will not be the same team that eventually wins a gold medal at the 2022 Winter Olympics (if NHL players are allowed to participate). But be sure to keep an eye on that roster for the 2018 Olympic games in South Korea. Don’t be shocked if a few of the previously stated names steal some jobs.
Unlike ever before, and before being the 2011 draft hysteria, surrounds Canada as they potential fear that their title could be challenged sinks in.
Before we get too ahead of ourselves, one thing remains. USA hockey, if anything at all, continues to grow and with that growth they’re moving in the right direction.
Now they need a gold medal.