That was thanks in no small part to winger Artemi Panarin, whose immediate chemistry with Kane and center Artem Anisimov established a dominant top line for Chicago and Kane’s two best offensive seasons (in points per game average) in that four-season span.
He’s a little bummed.
‘‘I’d be lying to you if I was sitting up here saying I wasn’t disappointed when it first went down, no doubt about it,’’ Kane said at the 10th annual Hawks convention at the downtown Hilton. ‘‘Artemi’s a great kid, someone I got along with really well off the ice and had that chemistry with on the ice. It was just fun to play with him every night. I’ll miss him, for sure.’’
As for who might fill that role across from Kane, there are a few candidates. (Saad will play with his old linemate, Jonathan Toews.)
There’s Ryan Hartman, coming off a 19-goal rookie campaign. He only had 76 minutes of ice time with Kane last season. There’s Nick Schmaltz, who played mostly with Jonathan Toews but had five assists in 186 minutes with Kane last season.
There’s rookie Alex DeBrincat, an offensive dynamo, and it’s not like placing a rookie with Kane didn’t work out last time. (Although there’s a slight difference between a 19 year old from the OHL and a 25-year-old veteran of the KHL.)
There’s also 35-year-old Patrick Sharp, who was Kane’s linemate for parts of his first stint in Chicago but is coming off an horrific season (18 points in 48 games).
What does Kane think about his line next season?
‘‘Who knows what’s going to happen?’’ Kane said. ‘‘I could have better chemistry with a guy like Schmaltz or better chemistry with someone like Hartman. And I know I played well with Sharp in the past, too. I’m looking forward to the season and the next challenge.’’
The good news for Chicago is that Kane has been a point-per-game player every season since 2012. He’s not a product of Panarin.
The real question is how much Panarin was a product of Kane, but we suppose that’s for the Blue Jackets to answer.
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