Updated Potential Trades and Landing Spots for Chicago Blackhawks Winger Patrick Kane
The Chicago Blackhawks' rebuild under general manager Kyle Davidson is well underway. The departures since March of Brandon Hagel, Marc-Andre Fleury, Alex DeBrincat, Kirby Dach, Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik were clear indicators that Davidson is looking at the long-term future rather than to make short-term fixes.
Those moves also raised questions about the futures of longtime Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. They are eligible to become unrestricted free agents next July. Each carries a cap hit of $10.5 million, though their base salaries will be $2.9 million and their total salaries will be $6.9 million for 2022-23. They also have no-movement clauses.
On Thursday, Davidson told reporters he'd had "healthy, open communication" with Kane and Toews last week about his plans. He was uncertain, however, whether either would request a trade following the club's recent moves.
Both could be willing to waive their no-movement clauses for opportunities to join playoff contenders. Of the two, Kane would draw the most interest. A creative playmaker, the 33-year-old right wing remains among the league's elite scorers, having finished 14th last season with 92 points in 78 games.
Kane also has a well-established reputation as a clutch playoff performer with 132 points in 136 career postseason games to go with 11 game-winning goals. With three Stanley Cups and the 2012-13 Conn Smythe Trophy on his resume as well, he would draw considerable interest among contenders.
Moving Kane during the offseason would be difficult given his hefty salary-cap hit. The best chance could come near the 2023 trade deadline, when teams have accrued sufficient cap room to take on a player with his talent. Chicago would also likely be more willing by that point to retain half his cap hit.
Kane would undoubtedly become the Blackhawks' best trade chip if they shopped him. But which clubs would stand the best chances to land him?
We examined those possibilities in March leading up to the 2022 trade deadline. Here are our updated potential trades and landing spots.
We dropped the Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins from the previous list. The rebuilding Sabres aren't expected to be playoff contenders, and the Bruins would have a much greater need for a first-line center if unrestricted free agent Patrice Bergeron retires.
As always, you can weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section below.
The Colorado Avalanche are basking in the glow of their Stanley Cup championship. They will soon, however, engage in the difficult task of defending their title. That could involve swinging a major trade by pursuing a superstar rental such as Kane.
On July 10, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman said on 32 Thoughts: The Podcast (h/t Colorado Hockey Now's Adrian Dater) that the Avs inquired about Kane before the trade deadline and noted the possibility that they could try again if he became available.
Colorado could be in the market for a reliable second-line center if it doesn't bring back free agent Nazem Kadri. The opportunity to add someone such as Kane, however, could prove too good to pass up for president of hockey operations Joe Sakic and general manager Chris MacFarland.
Acquiring Kane as a rental player would require the Avs to offer a quality young player in return. Dater speculated defenseman Samuel Girard and forward J.T. Compher could be in play, which would clear $8.5 million from their books.
Sakic and MacFarland could balk at such a steep asking price. Then again, the pressure to emulate the Tampa Bay Lightning and become back-to-back Cup winners might tempt them into pursuing a major deadline deal for Kane.
Los Angele Kings
The Los Angeles Kings emerged last season from their rebuild and became a playoff contender. General manager Rob Blake's acquisitions of Phillip Danault and Viktor Arvidsson contributed to that improvement. He made another significant addition by trading for Kevin Fiala and signing him to a seven-year contract extension.
Should the Kings continue to improve, they could be in a position by the trade deadline where a deep playoff run seems possible. That might encourage Blake to try to make his first significant trade deadline acquisition by pursuing Kane.
The Kings have $2.3 million in projected cap space with restricted free agents Gabriel Vilardi, Sean Durzi and Mikey Anderson yet to re-sign. They could be maxed out once the season starts, requiring Blake to make a cost-cutting deal. He could also attempt a three-team trade to spread Kane's cap hit around.
L.A. has the depth in prospects and promising young players to provide enough assets for Chicago. Vilardi, centers Jack Hughes or Alex Turcotte, defenseman Helge Grans or winger Samuel Fagemo could be part of a package.
Blake may play it safe and opt for a more affordable rental option. But if an opportunity came up to acquire Kane at the trade deadline, the GM should give it serious consideration.
New York Rangers
On July 8, the New York Post's Larry Brooks made the case for the New York Rangers to acquire Kane. He suggested the winger would be a suitable addition if general manager Chris Drury felt his team was close enough to winning the Stanley Cup in 2022-23.
Brooks cited Kane's experience as a three-time champion. He also pointed out that Rangers star Artemi Panarin played alongside Kane for Chicago, calling the latter "probably Panarin's all-time favorite linemate."
Panarin and Kane played only two seasons together but formed an impressive duo. The left winger won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 2015-16, while Kane took home the Hart Memorial Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award and Art Ross Trophy.
Reuniting those two could prove expensive. The rebuilding Blackhawks aren't going to just give him away and will want a return that helps them now and in the future.
Brooks believes certain players—including young defensemen K'Andre Miller and Braden Schneider—should be untouchable, but one of them could be part of Chicago's asking price. So could a promising forward such as Alexis Lafreniere or Kaapo Kakko plus a first-round pick and a top prospect.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning fell short last month in their attempt to become the first team to win three straight Stanley Cups since the 1982-83 New York Islanders (who actually four-peated). That doesn't mean they don't consider themselves serious contenders. Team captain Steven Stamkos and head coach Jon Cooper swatted aside that notion after the Avalanche ended the Bolts' two-year reign.
That determination to bounce back could push general manager Julien BriseBois to get creative and land a key player or two before next year's trade deadline. He could even attempt to land a superstar such as Kane.
The Lightning have already exceeded the $82.5 million salary cap by $7.2 million. They're allowed to be above that ceiling by 10 percent during the offseason provided they are cap-compliant when the regular season begins in October. Even then, they can exceed the cap by $6.9 million with Brent Seabrook on the long-term injured reserve.
BriseBois will have to get creative to land Kane. It could mean peddling a player such as Alex Killorn or Philippe Myers and maybe getting another club involved if the Blackhawks aren't interested in one of those two. Even if Chicago retains half of Kane's cap hit, Tampa Bay might have to spread the money around via a third team.
It wouldn't be easy, but it wouldn't be impossible. BriseBois' wheeling and dealing over the last three trade deadlines brought in players—including Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow, David Savard, Brandon Hagel and Nicholas Paul—who were crucial to the Bolts' success. We cannot dismiss the possibility that he'll find a way to do it again.
Toronto Maple Leafs
It's been 55 years since the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup. Their last playoff series victory came in 2004. The pressure team president Brendan Shanahan and general manager Kyle Dubas could feel to deliver a winner might push them into swinging a deal for a proven postseason performer such as Kane.
The Leafs appear set on their first line with superstar Auston Matthews centering Mitchell Marner and Michael Bunting. They could, however, bolster their second-line scoring. Shifting William Nylander to left wing and bringing in Kane to skate alongside center John Tavares would provide Toronto with two fearsome scoring lines.
Finding sufficient salary-cap space would be an issue. The Leafs sit $1.5 million above the cap with 22 players under contract for 2022-23 and restricted free agent Rasmus Sandin yet to re-sign. They'd have to shed salary to become cap-compliant by the time the regular season begins, and they'd likely have to wait until the trade deadline to make a pitch for Kane.
Pulling it off wouldn't be easy. But Dubas could get creative and attempt to swing a three-team deal to reduce the cap hit coming Toronto's way. He could offer forward Alexander Kerfoot, assuming the 27-year-old isn't part of a cost-cutting move this summer.
The Leafs might have to include a first-round pick plus one or two top prospects such as Matthew Knies and Nicholas Robertson. A young roster player such as Sandin, 22, or Timothy Liljegren, 23, could also be involved.
Salary-cap information and roster depth charts via Cap Friendly.