There is only so much a team can learn about a player from afar, from the reports and the rumors, the scouts and the film, the former teammates and former opponents. There is much more than can be learned up close, from practices and games, plane rides and dressing room disagreements and the fire of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
That's why, for now, the San Jose Sharks are moving ahead as they are with Evander Kane, the 26-year-old forward they acquired from the Buffalo Sabres in trade Monday. The Sharks are proceeding slowly and with caution, dedicated to a run to the postseason and a discovery of whether Kane fits the culture they have built, whether he's the right person for them long term.
"I go back to the skill set he brings and the age that he brings," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said of Kane, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. "He does bring the ingredients that fit for now and the future. The way the contract is structured it allows us to have flexibility for him to get to know us and us to get to know him."
[RELATED: Kane traded to Sharks by Sabres | 2017-18 NHL Trade Tracker]
The Sharks and Kane are, for lack of a better term, dating.
To get Kane, who has 40 points (20 goals, 20 assists) this season, the Sharks shipped forward Daniel O'Regan to the Sabres along with a conditional first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2019 draft.
It was, as Wilson said, a fair price to pay for a player with the abilities Kane boasts.
"His speed, his scoring, his grit and youthful energy," Wilson said. "He's 26 and he brings a lot of things to the table, and his familiarity with several of our players, especially our leadership group, is real important too."
Wilson and Kane said they had not talked about the future. Kane was overwhelmed trying to get himself to San Jose, where he's expected to make Sharks debut against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSCA, SNOL, NHL.TV).
Video: The crew on Evander Kane being sent to the Sharks
"I haven't thought about that at all," Kane said. "That's not really at the top of my agenda right now."
Next season, and the seasons after that, can wait.
"We certainly really like his game, like his ingredients and everything," Wilson said. "We get to get him in here, let's get to know each other and go from there."
That process might be more important with Kane than with many other NHL players. He is not without baggage, from his time with the Winnipeg Jets and the Sabres, though much of it came when he was in his younger days with the Jets.
"I think that Evander would admit he's grown up and matured," Wilson said. "He's 26 now. He's a man; he wants to be a great player and a dominant player in this league. I don't know about you guys, but I'm not sure we were all perfect angels when we were 20 or 21."
Video: Sharks add Evander Kane in trade with Sabres
Kane echoed that idea.
"We're not talking about last week or last month. We're talking about a number of years ago," Kane said. "I've grown up a lot since then and I've moved on from it and I think I've shown that over the course of the last two or three years. It's something I've put behind me.
"If you ask any of my teammates in Buffalo, there would be nothing but good things to say. For me, it's not a concern."
There is so much potential here. It was why Kane was rushing to pack his bags and get on the first flight to San Jose. It was why Wilson was pondering a future that might include Kane, but cautiously.
The Sharks have done their research, relied on those who know him, who have played with him. They believe they have the support and the personnel to integrate Kane into their team now, and to consider whether he might stick around.
"I know Evander knows a lot of our guys and is real excited to come into this group and this environment," Wilson said. "He just wants to focus on hockey, but he's going to be with a bunch of guys that are a really, really tight group.
"Evander is spoken very highly by his teammates in Buffalo. We've had players who have played with him in World Championships. This is not an unknown. We think this is a really good, tight group with great leadership that brings out the best in people and supports them."