NHL Free Agency 2012: 5 Reasons the Winnipeg Jets Must Re-Sign Evander Kane
After re-siging Tobias Enstrom and Ondrej Pavelec, the Winnipeg Jets have locked up a few of their corps players for the near future.
However, when assessing the teams' long-term future, several contract issues will arise in the 2013-2014 season.
Evander Kane is currently a restricted free agent, and should be at the top of the Jets' priority list.
Not to discount the rest of the Winnipeg roster, but Evander Kane represents the future of this team, especially in the scoring categories.
Here are 5 reasons the Winnipeg Jets need to sign Evander Kane before the start of the 2012-2013 season.
5. The Growing Versatility of the "Power Forward"
Jarome Iginla and Dustin Brown have found tremendous success as an "elite power forward" in the NHL. Though Brown's offensive totals do not come close to Iginla's, he has lead the Los Angeles Kings to a Stanley Cup win as their captain.
Will Evander Kane live up to such names in the NHL? All signs point to yes.
Last season, Kane amassed 57 points (30 Gs, 27 As) in only 74 games, while also dishing out 173 hits and maintaining a team-best plus/minus rating of plus-11.
With a team differential of minus-21, Kane has obviously developed his two-way game at the NHL level.
Without any serious setbacks, Kane will be poised to be the NHL's next elite power forward, and the Jets need to keep his services.
4. The Difficulty of Keeping Talent in Smaller Markets
On Forbes' NHL Team Values, the Winnipeg Jets rank 26th in the league, the lowest of any Canadian franchise.
Though the team is new and will continue to grow, the Atlanta Thrashers era proved how difficult it can be to keep star players in smaller hockey markets. Losing Ilya Kovalchuk and Dany Heatley could be considered the most obvious indications.
However, turning a new page as the Winnipeg Jets, the team must concentrate on keeping their star players happy, and willing to play, in the city of Winnipeg.
Chris Nichols of Sportsnet reports that the Jets and Kane have been in talks, and are approaching a 6-year deal worth $29 million.
Looks like the Jets have understood the past woes of small market teams and will hope to keep Kane around for a long time.
3. The Lack of Leadership on the Winnipeg Jets
Andrew Ladd is more than deserving of wearing the "C' for the Winnipeg Jets.
He has won a Stanley Cup, he was with the team throughout the move from Atlanta to Winnipeg, and has only missed one game in the past four NHL seasons.
However, secondary leadership is extremely necessary for any successful team in the NHL, and the Jets had four, count'em, four alternate captains last season: Chris Thorburn, Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom and Mark Stuart.
Though Byfuglien and Enstrom should continue to wear the "A", Kane ,even with his off-ice troubles, could become a great leader for the Jets in the future.
While Ladd has earned the right to wear the "C", Kane should be given an "A" when, and if, he chooses to re-sign in Winnipeg.
2. The Lack of Prospects in the Jets' System
First off, this is not entirely the fault of the Winnipeg Jets, as they inherited some of the woes that came with the Atlanta Thrashers.
However, Evander Kane remains the most significant product of an atrocious draft history in Atlanta.
Hockey's Future currently ranks the Winnipeg Jets at 25th in terms of prospects. With Mark Scheifele as the only potential top-six forward, the Jets are left with few choices in terms of high-end forwards.
Given the lack of prospects at the top-six forward level, the Jets must sign Evander Kane to avoid the loss of, potentially, their most elite player.
1. The Importance of a Franchise Player
Every team has a face. Some teams are lucky enough to have two, maybe more.
The Winnipeg Jets are not one of those teams. Given the team recently moved from Atlanta, the Jets are currently building a brand new history.
Evander Kane is most likely a major part of that.
Kane not only craves super-stardom, but oozes the motivation to be the best. What else do you need in a franchise player?
He has the skill, the drive, and the personality to represent the Jets for years to come.
Come on Winnipeg, we know you want to. Sign him already.