- Editor's note: Sheng Peng will be a regular contributor to NBC Sports California's Sharks coverage for the 2021-22 season. You can read more of his coverage on San Jose Hockey Now, listen to him on the San Jose Hockey Now Podcast, and follow him on Twitter at @Sheng_Peng.
“Well, Sheng, I am NHL-ready, right?”
That was Evander Kane’s response when I asked him if he was ready to play in the NHL — in terms of conditioning — after not playing a pro hockey game in seven months.
There’s no doubt that Kane, if we’re talking strictly about on-the-ice ability, should be in the NHL. He was the San Jose Sharks’ media-voted Team MVP last season and has scored at a 30-goal pace in each of the last two shortened seasons.
But here Kane was this afternoon, after a tumultuous off-season, making his AHL debut for the San Jose Barracuda. The 30-year-old winger went straight from juniors to the NHL after he was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2009.
This is no temporary conditioning assignment either — as acting GM Joe Will spelled out two weeks ago, “He’s just assigned there until he’s not assigned there.”