With just over a week remaining until the NHL's March 3 trade deadline, we’ve already seen multiple star players change teams, including Bo Horvat, Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly. But what about Patrick Kane? Could the Chicago Blackhawks forward be the next generational star to be on the move this season? If so, where would he want to be traded?
Kane, an impending unrestricted free agent, will ultimately have the final say involving any trade negotiations thanks to his full no-move clause. If he wants to leave, he can control which team acquires him. But he’ll also have the option to remain with the franchise through the rest of the 2022-23 campaign.
Many experts still believe the 34-year-old hasn’t chosen a path yet, although most are confident he’s leaning toward asking for a trade. Once he does, the next step will be locating a playoff contender who can afford the four-time All-Star’s services.
Given his $10.5-million cap hit, finding the perfect fit for Kane could be tricky, though not impossible, with Chicago reportedly willing to retain 50 percent of that figure. And if a third team gets involved, the three-time Stanley Cup winner’s cap hit could fall to less than $3 million — a much more affordable price point.
The hip injury remains an issue for some organizations, but the allure of adding Kane to the mix ahead of a playoff run isn’t something everyone can pass on. With that in mind, let’s explore where the decorated star could end up between now and next Friday.
Amid a competitive Eastern Conference, the Hurricanes are searching for a move to put them over the top as legitimate championship contenders. Acquiring Kane could definitely point them in that direction, especially if they miss out on Timo Meier.
Once Max Pacioretty — Carolina’s big-ticket offseason acquisition — went down with another season-ending Achilles injury, the team was gifted an additional $7 million in long-term injured reserve relief, providing it with roughly $10.1 million in spending ahead of the deadline.
The Hurricanes are one of the few teams who wouldn’t require a third-team broker to land Kane, limiting their acquisition cost. With those savings, the front office could make an upgrade on the blue line, adding another layer of depth to an already stacked defensive group.
Kane’s offensive results have taken a dramatic downturn this season, as he sits with 14 goals and 42 points in 53 games. But he has turned it on lately, potting five goals — including a hat trick versus the Toronto Maple Leafs — and seven points over his last three contests.
— NHL (@NHL) February 20, 2023
With 17 power-play points, the first-overall selection from 2007 would rank tied with Martin Necas and Brent Burns for the Hurricanes team lead. He is also just one season removed from posting nine power-play goals, which would place first on the Hurricanes in 2022-23.
It is unknown if Kane would accept a trade to Carolina, and considering the club already features four lefties in its top six, adding a fifth to the mix may prove complicated. But there’s no question he would improve its offensive makeup.
The Golden Knights have repeatedly swung for the fences via trade since their inaugural campaign in 2017-18, leaving the hockey community to wonder if general manager Kelly McCrimmon will follow a similar path this season.
After transferring captain Mark Stone ($9.5 million cap hit) to LTIR earlier this week, Vegas possesses approximately $8.75 million in relief pool space, affording management enough flexibility to pursue an impact performer — like Kane, perhaps. And its forward group would surely benefit from his arrival.
As currently constructed, the team lacks top-end skill on the left side, with Paul Cotter — who owns 11 goals and 15 points in 39 contests — positioned next to Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault on the top line. The addition of Kane would improve that potent duo significantly.
Even at less than 100 percent health, the 2016 Hart Trophy winner would likely boost the Golden Knights' offensive output down the stretch. They currently sit tied for 13th (3.21 goals for per game) league-wide and also feature the 19th-best power play (21 percent).
Nathan MacKinnon and Patrick Kane: now there is a duo that could create an enormous amount of damage if paired together.
Captain Gabriel Landeskog is expected to return before the playoffs, meaning the Avalanche may have to activate his $7-million cap hit from LTIR very soon. But with Erik Johnson out indefinitely with a broken foot, the team should be able to utilize his $6-million figure leading up to the trade deadline.
General manager Chris MacFarland is short on tradable assets, featuring only eight combined draft selections from 2023-24. But for a franchise in win-now mode and looking to defend its championship crown, Colorado’s front office shouldn’t hesitate to trade a late first-round pick.
That will be especially true if it leads to acquiring Kane, who could help improve the club from its current position as the 19th-ranked offence (3.07 goals per game).
The Rangers have already made a blockbuster trade, acquiring Tarasenko from St. Louis earlier this month, though they could still be in the market for Kane — at least theoretically.
New York was among the veteran winger’s preferred destinations before the Tarsenko deal, and he was pretty disappointed about the trade after it became official. There is, however, a way for everyone to be happy, although it would involve jumping through financial hoops.
With $206,292 in cap space, management must waive or demote at least one skater this week to create $1-million-plus in cap space by the trade deadline. That’s the easy part, though it needs to be completed by Feb. 26.
Then, with Kane’s cap hit at 75 percent retained ($2.625 million) — 50 by Chicago with the remaining 25 absorbed by a third party — the Rangers would need to move another skater with an $850,000 cap hit or higher. If they removed Jake Leschyshyn ($766,667) and Vitali Kravtsov ($875,000), for example, their added net cap hit would be $1.75 million.
The next issue becomes sending future assets to two franchises rather than just one. And with only a pair of tradable 2023 draft selections (New York’s second and Colorado’s third), general manager Chris Drury would be sacrificing even more of his organization’s future.
Even so, the Rangers would soar to the top of the arms race in the East, with Kane joining a loaded roster that already includes Tarsenko, Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko.
Dallas leads the Central Division this season largely because of the success of its top line, which features Jason Robertson, Joe Pavelski and Roope Hintz. Beyond that trio, however, things have looked bleak offensively.
The Stars are currently middle of the pack in that regard, even with their explosive trio, ranking 12th in power-play percentage (22.9) and tied for 13th in goals for per game (3.21). That could change if Kane joined the fold and strengthened the club’s second line.
Like the Rangers, acquiring Kane would also require the Stars to become creative with their payroll, needing to free up at least $2.5 million in cap space before next week’s deadline — a tough ask at this point of the calendar.
It might be attainable for general manager Jim Nill, who could create flexibility by optioning Fredrik Olofsson ($750,000) to the AHL and waiving Joel Hanley ($750,000). The team would also likely have to trade Luke Glendening ($1.5 million), adding $3 million in cap space.
Receiving Kane’s blessing, however, might be the most daunting feat of this trade, as it would mean moving across the country before potentially needing to do so again in the offseason.