It's been almost a month since the Detroit Red Wings signed Patrick Kane. It was a big moment for the organization, showing that Yzerman was willing to help push this team to the playoffs with a low-risk, high-reward signing. Furthermore, it signaled that the rest of the league notices what Detroit is doing, and we're either on our way or already are, a desirable destination to play.
With a star of this caliber signing with Detroit, it has become the main conversation in hockey circles, not just among Detroit fans and media. With that, it has brought much scrutiny on the team and Patrick Kane himself. The main focus being on his individual performance and how he affects team chemistry.
Unfortunately for Red Wings fans, since he started playing for the team, things have been downhill. The team has been devastated with injuries and suspensions, and it shows. Since Kane's first game, the team has gone 2-6-1 (as of writing). Even if the Red Wings win a game before Christmas, there's no doubt this team has been heading down the wrong path for a few weeks now and are currently sitting outside the playoffs.
But, even during this rough stretch of hockey, there have been bright spots. One of them being Patrick Kane himself. So, allow me to share why I have been optimistic about Kane since his first game.
Detroit Red Wings fans should be optimistic regarding Patrick Kane.
First, we'll take a quick look at some analytics. The first thing I see many bringing up is his Corsi numbers. To keep it simple, we'll look at his Corsi for and against. We'll be using stats provided by Natural Stat Trick for these numbers. For those who don't know what that means, "Corsi For" is a measurement of all shots taken by that player, whether on goal or not, while on the ice. Meanwhile, "Corsi Against" measures how many shots the opponent took while said player was on the ice.
So, his individual Corsi numbers, as of writing, are these: 105 shots taken by him, and opponents have taken 124. His Corsi For percentage is 45.85%, which isn't ideal, but I don't think it is too concerning. He hasn't had a positive Corsi percentage since the 2017-18 season. It's not even his worse CF% on a season. The worst being last season, with a CF% of 43.26. But, also remember: this current CF% is only over a stretch of eight games. Not only that, but more things need to be taken into account, which will be looked into later.
Now, another thing to bring up is his shooting percentage, as that's been a subject of online conversation as well. Going back to Natural Stat Trick, it's sitting at 9.38%. Up until his most recent game, that percentage was a lot lower. It's still not a great number, but it's not even the worst of his career. Once again, though, this is merely an eight-game stretch. I don't think people should be too concerned. The pendulum is bound to swing in his favor, and maybe scoring that second goal is the sign things are turning around. I am confident his goal-scoring touch will come back, even if it's not right now.
So, that's a lot of numbers that aren't glowing of Kane. But here's the thing: analytics can only tell part of the story. What they miss is context. Numbers are only a measurement, and broader context cannot be measured. So, what is the context being missed?
The first thing is that right after he began playing, injuries and suspensions happened. Klim Kostin, J.T. Compher, and Dylan Larkin were all out (and, in Kostin's case, out again) with injury. David Perron got suspended for six games. Compher and Larkin are the ones to truly take note of, as those are the centers who were expected to anchor his line! He joined this team assuming that Larkin or Compher would be his center, and that wasn't the case for most of his short tenure here, so far.
Even analytics show how important having a healthy top-six is for Kane. In his first game, against San Jose, when the team had Larkin, his CF% is 57.14%. Then, after Larkin gets injured against Ottawa, his CF% stays under 50% until Larkin returned against Anaheim, where he ended the night with a CF% of 59.09%. Against Winnipeg, it was 54.55%.
What this shows is that Kane was thrown into the fire and was given few tools to succeed when he joined the team. Then, when given the proper tools, things have started coming together. And yet, even during that rough stretch, there was a lot to like about his game. Using the eye test during that stretch, you couldn't help but be impressed with his playmaking and his chemistry with Alex DeBrincat. He was always making things happen, and unfortunately, his teammates rarely were able to capitalize on the scoring chances he created. Including DeBrincat, with whom he had a lot of chemistry with back in Chicago, and I would argue he still has shown chemistry with.
In conclusion, it was always going to be rough coming back from a hip resurfacing injury. It's a surgery many struggle to come back from, like Washington's Nicklas Backstrom. It was unrealistic to think he was going to come back and immediately be the old Patrick Kane we all remember from years ago. Then, to add to it all, he came right as injuries and suspensions started devastating the roster, making things more difficult for him. And yet, even during that, there have been bright moments, as mentioned in the last paragraph. Then, to top that off, over the previous two games (as of writing this), he has four points, two in each game. He was given little opportunity to succeed when he first joined the team, and yet has come out through it and is seemingly only getting better. His flashes of greatness have been there, and now, we can only hope it's all coming together again for him.