Geek of the Week: Evander Kane

by Scott Maran on November 5, 2017

Why is Evander Kane so valuable in fantasy, and can he keep it up?

Two months ago I wrote about the Buffalo Sabres’ star defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. His defensive play may take plenty of criticism, but it’s also true that he’s a beast when it comes to fantasy hockey. But through the first month of the NHL season, there’s been a new fantasy MVP on the Sabres, and his name is Evander Kane. Kane has gotten off to a blistering start, and there are good signs that he could keep continuing to provide this type of value.

Ever since he was drafted fourth overall by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2009 draft, Evander Kane has had the potential to be an elite scorer in the NHL and in the fantasy hockey world. Billed as a powerful forward who could score, there was plenty of hype surrounding Kane as he progressed, especially when in his third NHL season he tallied 30 goals in only 74 games.

However, since then, Kane has struggled a bit and has largely failed to reach the high expectations that were placed on him. In the following five seasons Kane failed to reach the 30-goal mark again and posted a high of just 43 points.

There were plenty of signs for a potential breakout though. Kane’s low point totals were mostly due to injury, as he would have had three 50+ point seasons if you pro-rated Kane’s point totals throughout that time over a full season. And despite the injury concerns, he continually put up excellent shot and hit totals, helping fantasy owners whose leagues accounted for those categories.

Now by the start of the 2017-18 season, Kane has got off to a roaring start and has been one of the most valuable fantasy skaters in the NHL. According to our trusty Fantasy Hockey Geek tool, he’s actually had the seventh-most value out of anyone (using an average 12-team H2H Yahoo league measuring G, A, PPP, SOG, Hits, W, SV%, GAA, and SO).

 

Rank

FHG Value

GP

G

A

SOG

PPP

Hits

Kris Letang

6

87

15

1

7

44

6

21

Evander Kane

7

86

13

6

6

60

3

27

Shayne Gostisbehere

8

81

11

1

12

28

8

4

Alex Pietrangelo

9

78

14

4

9

44

4

7

*Stats updated to 11/2/17

With six goals and six assists, Kane has been one of the top scorers in the league with an average of just under a point per game. But what make Kane really stand out are his insane peripheral stats. His three power-play points are a bit low, but his 60 shots are fantastic, as that averages out to over four shots per game. Out of the whole league, Kane actually ranks first in shots on goal. His 27 hits also put him on pace to end the year with over 170, which is 50th best in the league. Out of all forwards who are averaging at least .33 goals per game this year, Kane has the fourth most hits, right behind Jamie Benn and Derek Dorsett.

Kane’s ranking doesn’t even include penalty minutes, which he’s also a champ in. Here are the results from our Fantasy Hockey Geek tool when accounting for penalty minutes.

 

Ranked

FHG Value

GP

G

A

PIM

SOG

Hits

Derek Dorsett

3

109

12

6

2

44

19

25

Evander Kane

4

107

13

6

6

16

60

27

Nikita Kucherov

5

107

14

13

8

16

50

7

When considering a fantasy hockey league that counts goals, assists, penalty minutes, shots on goals, and hits, Kane’s overall value is ranked fifth highest in the league. Kane, Nikita Kucherov, and Sidney Crosby are the only players so far to have over 10 points and penalty minutes.

But even though Kane’s had a hot start, can we trust that he’ll keep it up? There’s a very good chance he will, as throughout his entire career Kane has always racked up a ton of hits and penalty minutes. And while it’s unlikely he’ll finish the year with 80+ points (or continue averaging quite so many shots on goal), Kane’s always had the offensive capabilities to score 60 or even 70 points. Spending so much time on the first line with Jack Eichel has its benefits and Kane’s high shot totals has kept his shooting percentage at an incredibly reasonable number, indicating future sustainability. He’s also seeing some of the most ice time he’s ever got while with the Sabres and is starting the most shifts in the offensive zone in his entire career, having an offensive zone start percentage of 63% (when his career average is just 54%).

It feels like we’ve been talking about an Evander Kane breakout season for forever now, but this may be the season he puts it all together and becomes the fantasy superstar he was projected to be.