There's No Question: Patrick Kane Is a Front-Runner for MVP

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There’s No Question: Patrick Kane Is a Front-Runner for MVP

Chicago Blackhawks

A few days ago, I wrote about Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat having the best seasons of their careers. But since that post went up, Kane has dropped seven more points, planting his flag squarely in the ground when it comes to the Hart Trophy discussion for league MVP.

Following Tuesday night’s four-point effort, Kane now has 100 career games scoring three or more points (92 in the regular season, 8 in the playoffs). His 30 points in 20 games this season is tied for fourth in the NHL (with Mitch Marner) behind only Auston Matthews, Leon Draistail, and Connor McDavid. The only other season in which Kane had 30 or more points through his first 20 games came in 2015-16 … when he won his only Hart Trophy.

Kane is currently scoring at a 1.50 point per game pace, well above his career-best marker of 1.36 in 2018-19 when he finished with 112 points in 81 games. If Kane were to play at his current pace over 82 games, he smash his career-high in points and assists, hypothetically finishing with 86 assists and 123 points.

With all of that said, the current favorite to win the Hart Trophy is Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, who leads the NHL in points (38 through 21 games played). He also ranks second in goals scored (13), trailing only Auston Matthews (18).

Kane is the highest-scoring player on a U.S.-based team, with Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau (23 points) and Philadelphia’s James van Riemsdyk (22 points) behind him. But even amongst all teams, Kane still is ahead of the pack when it comes to creating offense for his own team. Kane and McDavid are the only two players in the NHL that have contributed on half of their clubs goals this season.

McDavid has scored or assisted on 38 of the Oilers’ 76 goals (50.0%), while Kane has scored or assisted on 30 of the Blackhawks’ 61 goals (49.2%). The next closest player is Leon Draisaitl at 43.4%.

Diving deeper on Kane’s impact to the Blackhawks this season, he ranks second in the league in primary assists (16), third in the league in passes for one-timers per game (2.3), and fourth in slot pass completions per game (3.0), according to Sportlogiq. He also leads the NHL in zone exits per game (11.6), while ranking fourth in offensive zone possession time per game (1:07) and third in minutes played per game amongst forwards (22:21).

Kane is tied for third in the league in even-strength points (20) this season and when he’s been on the ice during 5-on-5 play, the Blackhawks have outscored their opponents 19-14. When he’s not on the ice, the Blackhawks have been outscored 25-11.

Basically, when Kane has the puck, good things happen. Wash, rinse, repeat.

But his impact is not being felt ONLY on the ice for the Blackhawks. Even in his 14th NHL season, Kane has been growing as a leader in the locker room.

Always recognized as one of the biggest names on the roster, this season has been a breakout year for him as a leader on the team. Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook are not a part of the active roster and have not been leading the team on day-to-day basis. In their absence, Kane and Duncan Keith have been left with the veteran leadership duties, and Kane, in particular, has grown into a more vocal leader, focusing on a more team-first game.

And, hey, it’s worked!

The team is in a spot where they are not contending for the first-overall draft pick, but rather a playoff opportunity. Kane has always been regarded as a highly-competitive person and still has the drive to be at the top of the NHL, even after the accolades and Stanley Cups he has in his trophy room. So what he’s doing as a complete player for the Blackhawks this season cannot and should not go unnoticed.

If we are to talk about a player being the most VALUABLE to their team, I don’t know how you can argue against Kane’s value to the Blackhawks in getting them to where they are this season.

Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.