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Evaluating Patrick Kane



Patrick Kane returns to his hometown Buffalo for the first time as a member of the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday. He’s had a historic career, with the kind of offensive numbers and achievements that put him in the discussion for the best American-born play in NHL history.

We know the pedigree – 464 goals, 1268 points, and three Stanley Cups. He also battled a tough hip injury last season, putting his value to an acquiring team in question for 2023-2024. So what kind of player is he now? Let’s dive in to see.

Impact on Red Wings

The saga around who Patrick Kane would sign with for this season was finally resolved in late November. The Red Wings signed Kane to a one-year, $2.75 million deal. They reportedly beat out other teams with interest, including the Dallas Stars, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Buffalo Sabres.

When Kane made his debut, the Red Wings had a 64.6% point percentage in the standings. They were 14-7-3, with a prominent standing in a playoff position. With Kane, Detroit’s been much more mediocre.

Their recent five-game losing streak has them at 19-18-3, desperately hanging on to the final Wild Card position. That brought their point percentage down to 56.3%.

Is the drop Kane’s fault, though?

With or Without Patrick Kane

More than standings points, Kane’s true impact on the Red Wings is better measured by how his play has affected some of his most common linemates in Detroit.

Alex DeBrincat

It was highly advertised that a reunion with former Blackhawks teammate Alex DeBrincat was one of the major tipping points regarding Kane’s decision to sign in Detroit. At five-on-five Kane and DeBrincat have played about 330 minutes together, per Natural Stat Trick. In those minutes, the latter’s on-ice numbers received a nice boost.

Shots on goal and expected goals-for saw a 12% improvement for DeBrincat and the team. That’s exactly what the addition of Kane was supposed to do – drive offense.

Interestingly, DeBrincat’s expected goals against, scoring chances against, and high-danger chances against saw a major decrease. Perhaps it’s because DeBrincat and the Red Wings found themselves playing in the offensive zone more, but the 15%-20% improvement on defense by adding Kane is a welcome bonus.

Dylan Larkin

Upon Kane’s signing, the initial thought was to put him with the team’s best center. Dylan Larkin and Kane have only played about 161 minutes together, but the impact has been positive on Larkin as well.

The shots saw a relatively minor boost, but there was a 7% increase in the percentage of the expected goals at five-on-five. Even more notable is the scoring rate Larkin and Kane produced, with goals-for increasing by a whopping 49% and goals-against decreasing by 31%.

It’s a case of top talent supplementing top talent. Larkin’s been injured as of late, and maintaining that scoring pace is unlikely, but a Larkin-Kane connection has shown positive signs early on.

J.T. Compher

J.T. Compher is the other center who has played with Kane for a fair amount of time (160 minutes). Compher is more of a defensive-centric player and was used in that role heavily before Kane’s arrival. It may be the absence of Andrew Copp from the line, but Compher’s defensive numbers took a tumble at even strength in those minutes.

Shot attempts went up 7%, shots on goal increased 13%, and goals-against also went up 13% in Compher’s on-ice numbers with Kane as opposed to without him. Goals and expected goals have decreased too, suggesting that the Red Wings have better options to play with Compher.

Kane’s played with defensive-minded centers throughout most of his career, which usually is a buffer to offset his tendency to focus on the offensive side of the game. However, the numbers suggest that Detroit is better off turning Kane loose.


The Sabres were in on Kane, which divided the fan base in debate. There was a side that was in awe of the player he was and dreams of what he could be in Buffalo. The other side of the fan base was discouraged by his recent play, analytics, and injury.

Here are Patrick Kane’s key attributes and most similar players per the PuckLuck player comp model:

Patrick Kane comps

The graphic shows that Kane is still elite offensively and on the powerplay. He’s in the 99th percentile of shooters in the NHL and can drive offense in various ways.

With the powerplay struggles in Buffalo, the Sabres could’ve used the spark Kane would’ve provided. Instead, he’s added a new dynamic to the Red Wings.

With DeBrincat, Lucas Raymond, David Perron, Robby Fabbri, and Daniel Sprong also prominent offensive players on the wing in Detroit, the Red Wings’ scoring depth has drastically improved.


The addition of Patrick Kane has added about 1.4 standings points to the Red Wings per Evolving-Hockey. Any positive impact is impressive considering the hip surgery the forward had undergone.

At his salary, Kane is one of the most cost-effective players on the team. His impact on the ice is apparent. The excitement the signing generated within the fan base and his entertainment value is invaluable. Bringing showtime back to Buffalo should be a lot of fun.

With 12 goals and 27 points in 25 games against Buffalo in his career, the Sabres will have a challenge on their hands on Tuesday.


**With or Without stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick**