It’s hard to picture Patrick Kane in anything other than a Blackhawks uniform, but there is a good chance that will happen over the next year.
The superstar Chicago winger, who helped bring the city three Stanley Cups, has one year left on his monster contract with a $10.5 million cap hit. With the Blackhawks clearly tanking in the upcoming season, it makes sense that Kane would not want to be a part of the rebuild and Chicago would like to gain valuable assets for the future instead of letting him walk for nothing next summer.
The latest rumor is that Kane isn’t ready for a trade and may begin the season with the Blackhawks and see how it plays out. He has spent the entirety of his career with the club, which drafted him first overall in 2007.
Despite the fact that the 33-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, he will gain major interest around the league if he is made available by GM Kyle Davidson. Kane has averaged over a point per game for the last four seasons. I have finished the 2021-22 season with 92 points in 78 games, ranking 14th in the league.
He’s a premier playmaker and passer who can bolster any power play. Any contender would love to have him on the right side of his forward lines.
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Here are three potential teams that could make a trade for Kane.
Three trade destinations for Patrick Kane
It makes perhaps too much sense for one of Kane’s top destinations to be a trip back home to Western New York. Kane grew up in Buffalo before moving out to Michigan to play hockey in Detroit as a teenager.
The Sabers don’t have a legit superstar on the roster. They have a ton of prospects and young players that they hope will turn into a player of Kane’s caliber, but as of now, they don’t have one. With all of those prospects in their system, they have plenty to offer Chicago in a trade. They also have the cap space to take on Kane’s contract.
Realistically, though, the only way Buffalo should make this trade is if it truly believes that getting Kane puts it over the top and makes the club a playoff contender. There is a ton of promise on the roster, but it’s at least a year away from competing to play in the postseason. I don’t think adding Kane is the last piece of the puzzle, but that’s a question GM Kevyn Adams has to ask himself.
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The Sabers certainly would be better with Kane and could contend in what is shaping up to be an extremely tough Atlantic Division. But it’s not smart to sacrifice young assets for one year of Kane. If they really want him, wait a year until he’s a free agent and then sign him without having to give up anything.
New York Rangers
The Rangers were one of the teams heavily linked to Kane at last season’s trade deadline. Ultimately, Kane stayed in the Windy City and the Rangers marched on to the Eastern Conference finals.
If New York does go this route, it would seem to be an in-season decision at the deadline. This would allow the Rangers to give some of their young players another 60 games or so to progress and either raise their trade value or prove they should be a part of the future in New York. The Rangers have plenty of players who could be traded bait. Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lafreniere and Vitali Kravstov are just a few. But if, all of a sudden, Lafreniere breaks out and becomes a 60-point player, would New York really want to trade him for a rental?
The other issue is the financials. New York has about $4.8 million in cap space, which doesn’t include the contract it has to give Kakko. Even if the Blackhawks retain 50 percent of Kane’s cap hit, the Rangers would need to dump another contract or bring in a third team to take on another 25 percent. A trade would cost a lot less at the deadline rather than before the start of the season.
When Artemi Panarin was in Chicago, he and Kane were magical together. With Artem Anisimov in the middle, it was one of the best lines in hockey. If the two were reunited in the Big Apple, the Rangers could do some serious damage in the East.
The Oilers are one of the teams that have recently popped in the Kane trade rumors. Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reported that GM Ken Holland “kicked the tires” on Kane, but as has been the case with the winger, Kane isn’t ready for a move.
Edmonton has almost no cap space left and a trade is imminent with restricted free agents Kailer Yamamoto, Ryan McLeod and Jesse Puljujarvi still in need of deals. Depending on who stays and what deals are signed, it’s likely that another move would need to be made down the line to even consider a trade for Kane.
Like the Rangers, a move by the Oilers seems more appropriate during the season as money would need to be moved around/retained. That would also allow Kane to see if the Oilers’ run to the Western Conference finals last season was a sign of things to come or an outlier.
But if Edmonton can bring in Kane, imagine a power play with he, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl all snapping it around That unit would give camera operators nightmares.