I cannot lie to you guys, I have been afraid to write this Cage Match article for quite some time. I mean, it is easy to compare Patrick Kane and Claude Giroux but how do you discern a difference beyond the logo on the front, and the name on the back of their sweaters? They are pretty much the same guy, as far as fantasy hockey is concerned.
In the fantasy universe Kane and Giroux are just chess pieces that you can move about the chess board that is your roster. It just so happens that Kane and Giroux are about as productive as they can be putting up large numbers across the board. What's more, their (C/RW) dual eligibility means you can move them about your board as you see fit. And trades? Oh please, if you are willing to sacrifice Kane or Giroux you can capture just about any piece your opponent has on the board except the King. You might have to give up a little more for the King. There aren't too many chess pieces like these two and the truth is you are damn lucky if you own one. Where the chess analogy falls apart is in the fact that not everyone is lucky enough to start with one on their team so I ask again – how can you decide between two players who are so damn good and yet so damn similar? I cannot promise you a decisive conclusion but maybe it is better that way. We have Patrick Kane vs. Claude Giroux.
The first thing to point out is the fact that Kane is more proven than Giroux. Proven over potential is one of my biggest mantras in fantasy hockey – but there are exceptions to every rule so you have to be malleable. I mean, if you come across a tiger in your bathroom aren't going to spend too much time pondering the fact you have never seen a tiger in the bathroom before. You will probably yelp like a little girl and run away.
Giroux is that tiger. He is so clearly a star that you can throw the Proven > Potential rule right out the window. If Proven > Potential no longer applies, how then can we discern a winner between Giroux and Kane?
I rarely do this but a comparison of Giroux and Kane's junior numbers might tell us something about what to expect in the future. There is a theory out there that a player's draft year numbers are the most telling stat with regards to what you can expect from them when they reach their peak at the NHL. Kane scored 145 points in the OHL in his draft year. Giroux scored only 103 points when he was drafted the season before out of the QMJHL. This would indicate that Kane has a much higher upside. I do not put too much stock in this because as I said, Giroux is obviously a star but perhaps Kane can reach just a wee bit higher. This is not enough to tip the Cage Match very far so let's look deeper.
A looking at which categories Kane and Giroux perform best in would normally be a good place to start, but as I mentioned in the opening, they are pretty much the same guy. Not only do they play the same positions but they also produce similar numbers across the board.
Neither one shoots in abundance or takes too many penalties. Both are strong on the power play and play for great teams so their plus/minus numbers are rock solid. Both Giroux and Kane are wizards with the puck, equally capable of scoring and dishing the puck but they are best suited to dishing. This makes them assist-heavy star players likely capping their goal production in the low thirties.