It makes all the sense in the world for the Wild to pursue Patrick Kane.
But the question is: Does Minnesota make any sense for Kane?
Kane, 34, is one of the biggest names left on the market ahead of the NHL’s March 3 trade deadline. It seems like the whole hockey world is waiting for the three-time Stanley Cup champion winger to make a decision on whether he wants to be dealt. With a full no-move clause, he has that right and still may decide he’s going to remain with Chicago.
And you’d better believe it’ll be Kane choosing a destination if he does decide he’s willing to move on. This won’t be a case of a bidding war between a handful of teams.
Teams aren’t trying to sell Chicago. They’re trying to sell Kane.
That’s where the Wild will be at a disadvantage. They’re one of the few playoff contenders who have the cap space (estimated around $12.5 million by the deadline) to take on the rest of Kane’s prorated hit/salary without needing any brokers or even for Chicago to retain a penny. They have the need, with a season-long issue of struggling to score five-on-five.
But if you’re Kane, and the Rangers are still in play, isn’t that the choice? He couldn’t have been clearer when Vladimir Tarasenko was dealt there earlier this month that that’s where he was hoping to go.
Could Patrick Kane still be an option for the Rangers, even after acquiring Vladimir Tarasenko?@StapeAthletic and @ByScottPowers examine the potential parameters of a deal for the Blackhawks’ star.https://t.co/UXf50v1Yb8
— The Athletic NHL (@TheAthleticNHL) February 22, 2023
And if the Rangers can’t make it work, Kane could join good friend Tyler Seguin in Dallas or play alongside Connor McDavid in Edmonton or Jack Eichel in Vegas (which just created $9.5 million in cap space with Mark Stone going on long-term injured reserve). He could join one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams in Carolina, which has “genuine interest,” per The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun.
Kane is a client of power agent Pat Brisson, who went through this last trade deadline with Claude Giroux. And after much contemplation by Giroux, Brisson basically provided Philadelphia with a list of one team (Florida, although Colorado was in the mix).
That severely hampered the Flyers’ ability to make a fair-market deal for Giroux. If Brisson takes a list of one team to the Blackhawks this time around, which LeBrun has indicated he will, what are the chances that Minnesota is that team?
Now, if Kane’s preferred destination can’t get it done, maybe he’ll decide to include another team or two.
So, in the unlikely chance the dominos fall their way, the Wild should be there raising their hands, especially if the price drops to a second-rounder or a second-rounder and a prospect. And while general manager Bill Guerin has said he doesn’t want to trade a first-rounder or top prospect for a rental, Kane seems like one of those players you’d make an exception for.
Kane is having a down year, by his standards, and there have been concerns over his hip. But the former Hart Trophy and Conn Smythe winner set those questions aside this past week. He has seven goals and 10 points in his past four games, including a vintage performance in a hat trick against Toronto.
Wild center Ryan Hartman, who grew up in Chicago watching Kane and then played with him for parts of four seasons with the Blackhawks, said he’d look really good in Minnesota green. Hartman said Kane is not only a fit on the ice but that he’d mesh well in the room, too.
“He’s just a winner,” Hartman said. “The last few years haven’t been easy for him. He came into the league when the Hawks were one of the worst teams in the league and he helped turn that organization around. He hadn’t missed the playoffs his entire career (until recently). It’s hard to see him playing anywhere else.
“But winning might trump that for him. It’s in his hands, right? He can choose.”
With March 3 creeping closer, let’s do a deep dive into this potential trade match. Here are all the key questions.
Why Kane makes sense for the Wild
Have you watched the Wild this year?
After being one of the highest-scoring and most entertaining teams in the NHL in 2021-22 (25 come-from-behind wins), the Wild have struggled offensively in 2022-23, especially at five-on-five. They’re one of the league’s best teams in terms of expected goals against. They’re heavy and physical. Their goaltending, lately led by Filip Gustavsson, has been better than most people thought it would be. Even their special teams have improved (both ranked No. 7 in the NHL through Tuesday). As Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger said, “They’re going to be a tough team to beat in a seven-game series.”
Yet Sunday’s win over the Predators was their first in regulation in 13 games because they have such little margin for error.
No, Kane won’t completely transform Minnesota into a high-octane offensive juggernaut. But he’d instantly make them more formidable up front. Imagine him on the other wing with Matt Boldy and how it’d take pressure off Kirill Kaprizov and the top line. Having a three-time Cup champion, no doubt, would add another presence in the room for when times get tough in a playoff series, as well.
Would this make the Wild a Cup contender? No. But the Western Conference is wide open. You get in and who knows what can happen. Minnesota has beaten the Stars, Jets and Oilers. The defending champion Avalanche are banged up. If adding Kane helps you win a playoff round or two, that could go a long way for young core players. It would mean a lot for Kaprizov.
The Wild have the cap space. They have the need. They have the assets.
What would it cost?
It’s believed the Blackhawks have thought about a package for Kane including a first-round pick. The Blues got one in each of their trades of pending UFAs Ryan O’Reilly (to the Maple Leafs) and Tarasenko (to the Rangers). So it’d be disappointing for Chicago to get anything less for one of its franchise players.
But if the number of suitors continues to dwindle — through a team picking up another forward, like, say, Timo Meier, or addressing another need (defense for the Oilers, for instance) — or Kane gives a list without anyone willing to pay that price, it could diminish the return.
If Chicago would move Kane for a second-rounder or a second and a prospect and Kane would at least entertain Minnesota, why wouldn’t the Wild jump on that?
Minnesota boasts the top prospect pool in the NHL, according to The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler, and while Brock Faber and Jesper Wallstedt are among the untouchables, you could package another solid prospect with a pick. For instance, the Wild are especially deep on blue-line prospects. Especially with Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin signed long-term, there’s no way they can all play here down the road. So why not dangle one of the defense prospects in a package?
It’s better than Chicago watching Kane leave this summer as an unrestricted free agent for nothing.
No team has made more first- and second-round picks in the past three years than the Wild. And they have 12 picks between the first and fourth rounds combined in the next three years (only missing a third-rounder this year, while adding a 2025 fourth in the Ryan O’Reilly salary retention).
The Oilers have around $500,000 in deadline cap space. The Rangers $1 million, unless they put a player on waivers. Vegas has room with Stone on LTIR (CapFriendly estimates $8.7 million by deadline day), though it’d likely need the Hawks to retain money.
Having the assets to deal for Kane isn’t the Wild’s biggest obstacle, though.
NHL teams ‘know who the banks are’: Third-party brokers, haggling over rates & a rising trend in trades like the #mapleleafs and #stlblues using the #mnwild as a middleman for ROR.
A DEEP DIVE from @JoeSmithNHL and me w contribution from @charlieo_conn https://t.co/mmGAew1Z6E
— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) February 21, 2023
What’s best for Kane?
The Wild may have the cap space, the need, and the assets.
But none of that may matter.
Kane wants to win. Will he think the Wild gives him the best chance? The team that usually loses in the first round and hasn’t gotten past the second round in 20 years? Whose center depth is far from the envy of the league?
If Kane asks, “Who am I going to play with?” his options could be:
- Good friend Seguin in Dallas
- The best player on the planet in McDavid
- Jack Hughes in New Jersey
- Freddy Gaudreau, Joel Eriksson Ek or Hartman in Minnesota
The idea of playing him on a line with Kaprizov could be tantalizing, though the Russian superstar and Mats Zuccarello have long been attached at the hip. The Wild believe Boldy is a budding star, and perhaps Kane would be intrigued by joining a line with the fellow former U.S. National Team Development Program standout.
“We’d love him in a Wild uniform,” Hartman said. “I got to play (on a line) with him a bit in Chicago. To get to play with him, his passing skills are next level. He’s still one of the best in the league.
“You can never go wrong with a three-time Stanley Cup winner, right?”
The Athletic’s Michael Russo contributed to this story.
(Photo of Patrick Kane: Robin Alam / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)