CHICAGO (AP) -Patrick Kane is still a teenager, yet the Chicago Blackhawks are already counting on him to spark their dormant offense for many years to come.
His chance could come as early as next season.
Kane, taken by the Blackhawks with the first pick of last Friday's NHL draft, was introduced to Chicago on Monday. The 18-year-old player came to town with impressive scoring totals in junior hockey and the belief that he can put up similar numbers on the big stage.
"He's going to be a great player for a long time in this organization," coach Denis Savard said of Kane, a native of Buffalo, N.Y.
The Blackhawks are in desperate need of an offensive force after finishing with the second-fewest goals in the league last season.
Kane led the Ontario Hockey League in scoring with 62 goals and 83 assists in 58 games with the London Knights. That plus a strong performance for the United States in the world junior championships were enough to dismiss concerns about his size - 5-foot-10, 165 pounds.
"Numbers don't lie," Savard said of Kane, who had five goals and four assists in seven games for the U.S. "He has a lot of skill. I think overall, he does everything well offensively. The biggest thing with him is how quick his hands are around the net."
Kane, who donned a No. 88 Blackhawks jersey Monday, welcomes whatever pressure comes with the hype and expectations.
"There's obviously some pressure with that pick, but the way I see it, I'm more of a pressure player and kind of thrive under the pressure situations," he said.
The first one he'll face will be in the fall when he competes for a spot on the Blackhawks' opening-day roster.
"From the people that I gathered information from in the hockey business, they tell me he's ready to play," Savard said.
"I would love to make the team," Kane added. "It would be a disappointment if I didn't."