Over the past few weeks, the Predators community has gone to battle over a player that brings with him loads of controversy and antics: Evander Kane.
In one corner are people like Josh Cooper of The Tennessean, who say that Kane’s character issues outweigh his offensive talent. After Cooper’s article was tweeted out, Twitter was ablaze with debate over Kane. The fiercest debate came in a back-and-forth between Andrew Hirsch and James Nelson of The Predatorial (the hyperlink takes you to one tweet in the middle of the ordeal. Scroll up and down to see the whole thing). Joe Yerdon of Pro Hockey Talk concurred with Cooper, saying that Kane’s antics are a red flag.
In the other corner are folks like Colin Fitts of The Hockey Writers, who argued that the Predators could solve their depth chart logjam in a trade for Kane. This is especially true at the center position. The Predators have an abundance of talent down the middle. Could some of it be used as trade bait?
From the Jets perspective, Kane has been pretty good on the ice. Last season, Kane had 41 points in 63 games, according to NHL.com. Not bad, considering the state of the Jets. In 2011-2012, he had 57 points in 74 games. Clearly, he can produce offense. He can shoot and blow by the defense with ease. He would be a first-liner for sure. Imagine a line with Evander Kane on one wing and James Neal on the other.
His on-ice ability is not in question. The main question the Predators have to ask themselves: are his off-ice antics worth taking a risk on him?
First, let’s consider what exactly those antics were. The most notorious incident is this photo he tweeted out in 2012:
— Evander Kane (@EKane9JETS) December 19, 2012
Is this photo THAT bad? Yes, he’s holding cash stacks. Yes, he’s flaunting them. Yes, that is incredibly cocky. If the only argument for not going after him is that he took pictures with cash stacks, then the Predators should absolutely try for him.
Even if we assume that he does have character issues, the Predators should still consider trading for him. In the Trotz era, players with “character issues” didn’t fly (see Radulov/Kostitsyn in 2012). But, Trotz is gone now. Peter Laviolette is behind the bench, and now the first priority is offensive talent. The Predators have already brought in a number of players with potential character issues. James Neal has been characterized as a dirty player for hits like this. Mike Ribeiro was reportedly a bad egg in Arizona, but he had personal problems that bogged him down.
The old methods are gone. Players with character issues are no longer taboo on the Predators. Evander Kane has had his fair share of problems. But, that shouldn’t deter the Predators from taking a look at him. If anything happens, it probably won’t happen until September or the early months of the season. If the Predators don’t take a look, they are foolish.
Evander Kane is talented. That’s all that matters.