The Chicago Blackhawks are one of the teams that all hockey fans will be watching very closely as we gear up for the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline. After all, the rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks currently have the least points in the NHL and have several notable trade candidates because of it.
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The Toronto Maple Leafs, on the other hand, have a 30-11-8 record and are easily one of the best teams in the entire NHL. As a result, they are gearing up to be major buyers and reportedly have one of the Blackhawks’ biggest stars on their radar because of it. As a result, it appears that the two Original Six clubs are emerging as blockbuster candidates.
Patrick Kane Becoming Trade Candidate for Blackhawks
When Blackhawks general manager (GM) Kyle Davidson announced that the Blackhawks were beginning a rebuild last season, everybody wondered about Patrick Kane‘s future in Chicago. After all, the star winger is their most valuable trade asset and has the potential to net them an excellent return because of it. Yet, now that the deadline is just over a month away, the chances of us seeing the pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) moved are starting to increase.
There’s no question that just about every contender in the NHL would love to acquire a top-tier talent like Kane right before the postseason. After all, he has been one of the league’s best players for 16 seasons now and of course, has three Stanley Cups on his resume. However, the Blackhawks’ very weak roster has impacted his production just a bit this year, as he has 31 points in 43 games. Although those are still decent offensive totals, they are low for his standards. Yet, playing with better talent around him should surely help his point totals skyrocket again.
Kane is getting a ton of interest around the league, so there is going to be a lot of competition to acquire him. According to The Fourth Period, the Toronto Maple Leafs are in fact one of the clubs currently linked to Kane. He certainly would be a major addition to them if acquired, so let’s now dive into why.
Why the Maple Leafs Could Use Kane
When looking at the Maple Leafs’ roster, it is hard to find too many weak areas. I’d argue that this is one of the deepest rosters that they have had over the last few years, and it is obviously a major reason why their record is so excellent at this point of the campaign. However, at the same time, it wouldn’t hurt them to add another high-impact winger to their group. The Eastern Conference sports a plethora of fantastic teams like the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Carolina Hurricanes, so the Maple Leafs should be aiming to make a major addition to their group before the playoffs. Kane would provide them with just that.
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When looking at a potential fit for Kane in Toronto’s lineup, it is fair to argue that he would be a significant upgrade over Calle Jarnkrok on the second line. A trio of Kane, John Tavares, and William Nylander has the potential to be lethal, and it could be exactly what leads Toronto to get ahead of their Eastern Conference rivals. Furthermore, Kane would provide the Maple Leafs with a significant boost to their already-strong power play because of his marvelous playmaking ability.
Yet, the biggest reason why Kane would make sense for the Maple Leafs is that he is a proven winner. Toronto has become famous for their first-round losses, but bringing in a player who has won three Stanley Cup championships could be a way to help remedy this ongoing issue.
Potential Blockbuster Between Chicago & Toronto
If the Blackhawks are going to part ways with Kane at the deadline, they will need to receive a big offer for his services. After all, he is still a star player and one of the biggest players in the history of their franchise. As a result, general manager (GM) Kyle Davidson should demand the Maple Leafs’ 2023 first-round pick and Matthew Knies as a starting point. However, with the Maple Leafs having limited cap space, they also would need to throw in Alexander Kerfoot and the Blackhawks would need to retain half of Kane’s salary. A third team could also help take on a portion of Kane’s salary if they land something in return.
Knies is exactly the kind of prospect that a rebuilding team like the Blackhawks should have on their radar. The 6-foot-3 forward has all the tools to blossom into an effective power forward at the NHL level, as he has a nice blend of offensive skill and immense physicality. After recording 33 points in 33 games with the University of Minnesota last season, the Phoenix native has 15 goals and 27 points in 26 games this campaign.
Kerfoot may not fit into the Blackhawks’ rebuilding stage, but he would immediately become another trading asset for Chicago if acquired. The 28-year-old is a pending unrestricted free agent (UFA), so the Blackhawks could flip him for a pick or two to another contender before the deadline passes. In 49 games this season, the Vancouver native has seven goals and 15 assists.
Ultimately, for a Kane blockbuster between the Blackhawks and Maple Leafs to work, the future Hall of Famer would need to waive his full no-movement clause (NMC). When noting that the Maple Leafs would provide him with the opportunity to compete for a Stanley Cup again and play with stars like Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, it seems likely that he would be open to the idea of playing there. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks would land some quality assets for the future in this hypothetical move, so it would have the potential to be a win-win for everybody. Alas, we will need to wait and see if these two teams strike a blockbuster centering around Kane from here.