Thursday, August 19, 2010

Time to step up: Tomas Kana

  • Center
  • 22 years old, 2nd year in National Hockey League
  • $625,000 cap hit 
  • 1.0% of Columbus Blue Jackets salary cap
  • Contract expires at end of this season
  • 2009-2010 CBJ numbers: 6 games played, zero goals, 2 assists, 2 points, +2, 2 penalty minutes, 8:40 avg. time on ice
Drafted early in the second round of the 2006 National Hockey League draft by the St. Louis Blues, Czech Tomas Kana was buried with the Alaska Aces of the ECHL (30 GP, 6 G, 14 A, 20 PTS, +14, 65 PIM) when he, along with defenseman Brendan Bell, came to the Columbus organization in a December 8, 2009 trade for Pascal Pelletier.  I vaguely recall the talk at the time being, "Great, we needed more defensive help."  Kana was an afterthought.  

My, how times have changed.  I opened up The Hockey News Yearbook (and who says print is dead?) and right there on page 93, Kana is projected as the number 4 center in the organization behind Antoine Vermette, Derick Brassard and Sammy Pahlsson.  Andrew Murray and Derek Mackenzie are both listed behind Kana.

And of course, I have no idea who this guy is.  Let's dig into the vault, shall we?  

First,  Kana's secondary assist on Sammy Pahlsson's second period goal on April 7, 2010 against Detroit and their 58-year-old "rookie" goalie, Jimmy Howard:

Secondary assists are kinda hard to track, but Kana appeared to have a decent pass out to Blunden, who was working in the middle of the ice.

Then, Kana's primary assist on Mike Blunden's third-period goal in the same game:

Pretty pass by Kana to Blunden through traffic.  Can't argue with that.

Now, it's not like Kana was sitting on his hands in Syracuse last year.  I mean, look at this:

On the more productive side of the ledger, he also played in 50 games, with 15 goals and 13 assists for 28 points.  That's good enough to get a post-trade deadline callup to Columbus, and Kana apparently made some hay out of his time slogging on the 3rd and 4th lines in April.  Scott Howson apparently agreed, giving Kana a two-way contract for this upcoming season. Catch this quote from our general manager:
“Tomas made great strides last season,” Howson said. “We are expecting those improvements to continue into next season.”
I guess someone noticed, eh?

Looking to this season, Kana's challenges are crystal clear: 1) Use training camp to create a compelling case that he belongs on the Columbus roster, 2) Use the regular season to make it impossible for Arniel to healthy scratch you and for Howson to let you leave the team when your contract expires and 3) Get that longer-term, one-way contract when the season's up.  Simple, right?  Everything is simple when you're 22 years old and have an entire career ahead of you.

Well, he's doing the right things so far.  He's spent the summer in Columbus, working out under the coaches and management's noses.  Now, it's just a matter of getting into training camp and implementing the plan.  

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