Does Evander Kane still want to play for the Winnipeg Jets?

Evander Kane (Getty Images)
Evander Kane (Getty Images)

Either Evander Kane doesn’t care if he’s traded out of Winnipeg – maybe even looking forward to it – or he’s trolling the heck out of Jets fans.

Remember, just two weeks ago Kane was caught favoriting a tweet from a Flyers fan calling on GM Ron Hextall to acquire the young Jets scorer. Whether it was intentional or a slip of the thumb on Kane’s part, this was a pretty incredible sight.

On Tuesday, Kane had an opportunity to shutter any suggestion he is hoping for a move out of Winnipeg, a city that doesn’t seem too interested in hanging on to a soon-to-be 23-year-old with the upside of a 30-to-40 goal scorer. Kane was interviewed on Vancouver’s TEAM 1040 and he didn’t exactly commit to Winnipeg:

1040: Evander do you want to play for the Winnipeg Jets anymore?

Kane: Well I think I’m a Winnipeg Jet right now, and, you know, there’s been speculation and rumors the three years since I got there. So, you know, we’ll see what happens and we’ll carry on as if I’m a Winnipeg Jet.

1040: There’s not a yes in there, and some Jets fans might say, “why doesn’t he want to play for us?” Or “why isn’t he absolutely fully on board for playing for us?” You’re shaking your finger at me.

Kane: I’m training hard and getting ready for this season and last summer I didn’t have a full year of training due to some surgery I had, so I found it really important for me to start training early and get myself in the best shape possible for this season. So that’s my focus.”

At this point, it’s worth noting Kane is under contract with the Jets for the next four seasons, so it’s not like the team absolutely has to move him. There’s no danger of him leaving. It’s also worth noting he doesn’t have any trade clauses in his contract, so if the Jets did want to move him, they’d be free to deal him anywhere.

But…why? Winnipeg hasn’t yet made the playoffs since moving in from Atlanta and is still searching for an identity. This is a team that could use a splash or two to bring some upgrades to the roster, but they really need help with goaltending and third-line depth – not the kind of pieces you’d want to get back for a young player with the highest potential on your team. Kane is a guy a team like Winnipeg should want to hang on to.

If this ever becomes a real problem – like the player causing problems in the dressing room or giving up on the ice – then that would change the situation. And Kane did have a down year in 2013-14 (19 goals in 63 games), but that can be attributed to the injuries he talked about, rather than a low compete level. At the very least, it’s worth waiting to see how he responds in 2014-15. Right now, these are just words, not harmful actions.

But this seems to be headed in one direction, doesn’t it? Kane has been called out all sorts of times by fans and media and been present on message board trade blocks almost since the day he arrived in Winnipeg from Atlanta. We’re all tired of the speculation and rumors – including, it seems, Kane himself. It wouldn’t be unprecedented for a player of his age and potential to get traded, just last summer the Bruins dealt Tyler Seguin to Dallas in a move that landed them Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith. The Bruins did pretty well, but Seguin became a top 10 NHL scorer.

Is that the kind of potential Winnipeg can afford to move on from?

Here’s the full audio of Kane’s interview, courtesy TEAM 1040.

What do you think the Jets need to do with Kane?

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