The Rangers made their first obvious offseason move, trading backup goaltender Alexander Georgiev to the newly-crowned Stanley Cup champion Avalanche for multiple draft picks.
The presumed next step for general manager Chris Drury: Filling the hole on the second line at center. But what if the answer to that issue is on the wing instead?
Drury needs to move heaven and earth to get Patrick Kane to Broadway. The surefire Blackhawks Hall of Famer is believed to be available. Chicago is in clear teardown mode after dealing Kirby Dach and Alex DeBrincat at last week’s NHL draft. Kane has one year left on his current contract. And if any team has the assets to get a deal done, it’s the Rangers.
Kane is coming off a 26-goal, 96-point season on the league’s third-worst scoring team. He is still playing at an elite level at 33 (34 in November). He would give the Rangers the impact player they need to get over the hump and position themselves to win it all after their recent postseason run. Kane is also close with Artemi Panarin. That could help things get across the goal line.
Panarin spent his first two seasons in Chicago across from Kane. He won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie on Kane’s line, finishing with 30 goals and 77 points that year. Kane was an MVP and led the league in scoring alongside Panarin, and made his anger known when the Blackhawks moved on from his teammate. He has said the “funnest hockey” he has ever played was with Panarin. And this is a guy who won the Cup three times without Panarin.
If the Rangers truly want to go “all in” following their trip to the Eastern Conference finals, Kane is the move. Acquiring arguably the greatest American player ever would be a massive statement.
There would be some complications. Kane’s $10.5 million AAV is a bit cumbersome for the Rangers’ salary cap situation. They would need to get the Blackhawks to eat some salary. Kane also brings some baggage. He faced sexual assault allegations, but was not charged, in a 2015 incident in Hamburg, New York (Kane is a Buffalo native). But if the Rangers are comfortable with that part of his background, they have the young talent and draft capital to make a move happen.
There would be no better addition for a Rangers roster that needs veteran leadership with playoff experience than Kane.