Evander Kane out until after the Olympics – what does it mean for the Jets?

The Winnipeg Jets are 6-1-0 under new coach Paul Maurice, which is an unsustanable pace for the young team. But now they’ll be without their best player until after the Olympics, as Evander Kane deals with a hand infection. Like the team, he was just starting to roll, too.

Evander Kane got off to an awful start with the Winnipeg Jets this season. And this came a season after his numbers dipped, slightly, from his 2011-12 performance. By managing only seven goals and 14 points through his first 26 games this season, Kane was again regressing on paper and the fact the Jets were awful as well put the 22-year-old back in the crosshairs of misguided, trade-happy optimists. The Jets have been in recovery mode under Paul Maurice, turning around a terrible start to go 6-1-0 under their new coach. But Kane’s turnaround happened well before Maurice arrived. Since December 1, Kane has played 16 games, scoring eight goals and 15 points – well above his career averages. Slumps happen to everyone – just ask Eric Staal – and Kane was snapping out of his. But just as he was finding his legs,
Kane has been forced to the sidelines until after the Olympic break with a hand infection.

Paul Maurice announces Evander Kane will be out of
#nhljets lineup until after the Olympic break with infection in his hand — Sara Orlesky (@saraorlesky)
January 28, 2014

The initial injury was sustained in a Jan. 7 game against Tampa Bay. Kane cut his hand in this fight with Eric Brewer:

At least he came away with the ‘W.’ Kane actually missed the four games after that to guard against infection, but returned Jan. 21 against Anaheim and played four games in which he scored a goal and four points. But now he’ll be out of action again until at least the conclusion of the Sochi Games because, well, err, he didn’t escape an infection. This picture of his ballooned hand is from Kane’s Instagram account and is not meant for the squeamish:
Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 4.28.15 PM If not for last year’s lockout, Kane may have hit 30 goals for the second year in a row. It would have been close anyway, as he logged 17 in 48 games. He’s already missed 12 games so far this year, but has 15 goals, which would put him back in the 30-goal ballpark. Kane will have one 30-goal season under his belt by the time he turns 23, but, with a little luck, had the capacity to hit that mark two or even three times by then. Bobby Ryan, who started his NHL career two-plus years after being drafted, also had one 30-goal season under his belt when he turned 23. He followed that up with three consecutive 30-plus goal seasons, a span in which he only missed on regular season game. That’s what Kane could be today with better health, better coach and more friendly labor negotiations. In fact, he could possibly be even more than that, since Kane has never had the benefit of playing with a center like Ryan Getzlaf, or a winger like Corey Perry. Remember that if you ever think Kane should be up for trade over the life of his current $5.25 million cap hit contract that runs through the 2017-18 season. The Jets have been playing unsustainably well lately and this injury could bring them back to reality quicker than they would have. Time and talent is on Kane’s side. With a little luck, stardom really isn’t far off.
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