When the New York Rangers traded for Vladimir Tarasenko, Patrick Kane openly admitted he wasn’t happy about it. Like many, Kane probably assumed that a Tarasenko trade made it impossible for him to also join the Rangers.
Time will tell if the Rangers can find a way to make all of the pieces fit, but multiple reports indicate that the veteran winger has tunnel vision for Broadway, and New York might actually be able to squeeze him in.
It increasingly seems like it’s Rangers-or-bust for Kane, which would be better than nothing for the Chicago Blackhawks. Kane’s full no-movement clause is the one key complicating factor in this situation; he can make the Rangers the only option, or decide to kill a trade altogether.
According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, New York will scratch Kane for Saturday’s game against the San Jose Sharks.
The other complicating factor is the sheer cost of Kane’s last season under contract. His current cap hit is $10.5 million. While that number shrinks each day as the Friday, March 3 trade deadline approaches, it still requires gymnastics from a Rangers team already tight to the salary cap ceiling.
We’ve seen serious salary retention in big trades lately, and it would definitely be needed to make a Kane move work for New York. Multiple reports point to 1) the Blackhawks needing to retain salary (likely 50 percent) and 2) a third party needing to retain more (probably 25 percent).
The Rangers’ recent trade-related healthy scratches point to two players likely going to Chicago to make it work: Vitali Kravtsov and Jake Leschyshyn. Scott Powers and Arthur Staple of The Athletic broke down how the money could work, indicating that it could come down to the wire.
“The Blackhawks would need to retain 50 percent and a third team would be needed to retain another half of the remaining half to get it down to a manageable $2.625-million. Then, the Rangers would have to ship out Vitali Kravtsov ($875,000) and Jake Leschyshyn ($766,667), which gets them to around $2.4-million in cap space now. If the Rangers wait until March 3, deadline day, they might get there for the whole $2.625-million. Barely.”
Notice that even such a breakdown included the word “might” when talking about fitting about $2.625M in Kane post-retention. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the Rangers have been “grinding toward a conclusion” with this move, making sure “no detail is missed.”
Overall, it sounds at least plausible, but it’s fair to wonder how the Rangers might truly make it worth Chicago’s while, even as the only Kane trade option. Kravtsov, 23, was the ninth-overall pick of the 2018 NHL Draft, but hasn’t really caught on at the NHL level. His point production has been modest (10 points in 48 games spread across the past two seasons), and Kravtsov actually saw his average ice time drop from 12:24 per game in 2021-22 to just 11:25 per night this season.
While the Rangers traded away their own first-round pick to land Tarasenko, they have the Dallas Stars’ first-rounder thanks to the Nils Lundkvist trade last offseason. Could the Blackhawks pry that away, or would the Rangers make them settle for less as Kane’s lone trade destination?
Making the money work is the biggest hurdle to clear. After breaking it down, it’s easy to see why this is such a challenging trade, yet the Blackhawks would be better off getting something for Kane (especially since they can’t move Jonathan Toews).