The Contrarian – Kane vs. Wheeler

Thomas Drance


Evander KaneBlake Wheeler


Comparing Evander Kane’s trade out of Winnipeg to his ex-teammate Blake Wheeler spurning the Coyotes.

We are going to tackle the Evander Kane trade but we are going to start off with his now former teammate Blake Wheeler.


A surprise fifth overall draft pick by Wayne Gretzky's Phoenix Coyotes, Kevin Allen of USA TODAY wrote "The NHL's central scouting service had only rated the Breck (Minn.) High School junior as the 17th best North American player, and that list didn't include goaltenders or European players. USA TODAY had Wheeler projected as a first-round pick, but some projections had him as a second rounder and no one had Wheeler rated in the top 10."


In the same article he quotes Wheeler's agent Matt Keator saying "We look for athletes and this kid is a raw athlete" and Allen himself adds "The NHL is constantly looking for big wingers with an offensive touch, and Wheeler has the potential to be dominant. He can also skate well for a big man."


Something strange happens though. He does not sign with the Coyotes.


The team's press release has General Manager Don Maloney saying "We offered Blake a contract which was both commensurate with his draft position and far exceeded any guaranteed contract he can receive, under the current CBA, with any other team." 

Ken Campbell of The Hockey News wrote in his article " Blog: Wheeler will have plenty of suitors after spurning Coyotes" he purposely chose free agency over taking more short term money.


Once again his agent, Keator, is quoted "He isn't chasing the money. It's about choosing where you want to play and where you want to live. It's not about the money and I think that's refreshing."


At the age of 22, Wheeler opts to become an unrestricted free agent despite other executives thinking that he is missing out on a great opportunity with a young and upcoming team led by Gretzky.


He eventually signs with the Boston Bruins in 2008 and once more in 2010 for one year deal that at the end of its tem would have him continue to be a restricted free agent but before that contract could expire, the Bruins decided to make a money move.

They traded Wheeler and Mark Stuart to Atlanta for Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik. The money comes in two parts.


The first part is that the Bruins were hot to get Tomas Kaberle and needed to clear some cap space.  The second part, noted in this NESN article that gives you the trade deadline play-by-play, was that Wheeler was going to be a restricted free agent at the end of the season.


You know what happened next, Tomas Kaberle got his name on the Cup and celebrated like he was the king of the world. The picture that should be attached to that Globe and Mail article can be found here Czech publication (rejoice Leaf fans). That same summer the Thrashers decide to move to Winnipeg and become the second incarnation of the Jets.


By this time Wheeler was part of a team that included Evander Kane on its roster and in the team's first season back in Winnipeg both of them had breakout seasons. Wheeler at this time was 24, Kane was 20 years old.


This brings us to Kane and an article by Corey Masisak of titled "Super 16: Bet on Kane could pay off big for Sabres". He forwards the thought that because of his shots per game ratio that Kane "just needed time to mature."


"Kane is 23 years old, and depending on someone's particularly heated opinion, either a misunderstood superstar in waiting or a potentially poisonous influence in the dressing room with forever untapped on-ice potential. He might also just be a really good player who was forced to grow up in the NHL, so his bouts of immaturity were exposed on a grand stage" he writes and adds comments by Buffalo's GM Tim Murray, "Players have warts. The best players have warts."


Most fantasy hockey enthusiasts understand that it takes some time for power forwards to develop but when they do the rewards can be very satisfying. This is why NHL and fantasy GM's are hungry for Kane in anticipation of future large paydays.


Similar to Wheeler, Kane is a former high round draft pick with size and speed. A smart GM would have jumped on the chance to acquire Wheeler when his value was low and those same GM's are now looking for the similar results out of this Kane situation. 


As mentioned, Masisak uses the shots per goal ratio to highlight Kane's superiority and elite level abilities. The table provided indicates that he ranks below Dale Hawerchuk and Gretzky. The ranking was based on how many 3.2 shots per game seasons prior to age 24 each player had accumulated.


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