The New York Islanders are looking to make a big signing this offseason. After failing to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, firing head coach Barry Trotz, and hiring Lane Lambert, the pressure is on general manager (GM) Lou Lamoriello and the front office to not only make a big move in the offseason but turn the team into a contender, as they were in previous seasons. The Islanders have salary cap space, but if the team can’t sign a star player like Johnny Gaudreau or Filip Forsberg, they can and will look to the trade market.
The Islanders are looking to contend immediately, while a handful of teams are looking to rebuild. The Chicago Blackhawks had a disappointing season despite acquiring Seth Jones and Marc-Andre Fleury last offseason with the hopes of contending. This summer, the Blackhawks will try to add prospects and young talent and, in the process, trade one of their veterans on expiring contracts, including Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
Plenty of teams will make an offer for Kane, and the Islanders will be no exception, looking to add elite talent to the forward unit. However, they will have a lot to maneuver to acquire the star forward and will likely have to give up a lot in return for a player who has been the face of the Blackhawks franchise.
Kane’s No-Movement Clause
The biggest obstacle for the Islanders is Kane’s no-movement clause, allowing him to decide where he wants to go, if anywhere. The Islanders could be one of the few teams that interest him; they have proven they can contend for a Stanley Cup, reaching the Semifinal in both 2020 and 2021. However, the 33-year-old has played his entire 15-year career with the Blackhawks and, in all likelihood, has a select few destinations where he’d like to end his career.
Moreover, the Blackhawks would ideally not just rebuild around a player like Kane, who is still playing at an elite level, but also have their franchise player around for when the team is a competitor again. The Blackhawks’ new GM, Kyle Davidson, noted in his end-of-season press conference that there’s a place for both Kane and Toews on the roster, even in a rebuild. As a result, the Islanders will have to make a convincing case to a rebuilding organization that might not want to trade their veteran talent, to begin with.
In addition to the no-movement clause, the Islanders have to work around the salary, which would be a massive hit to their cap space. Kane has one year left on an eight-year, $84 million contract with a $10.5 million cap hit. With one year left, the Islanders would essentially be acquiring a rental with no guarantee of re-signing him. The move would not only signal that the team is going all-in next season, but it would leave little-to-no flexibility to sign another player in the offseason, making it a high-risk, high-reward trade, especially for his skillset.
What Kane Adds to the Islanders
As a puck distributor, Kane can find open skaters in the offensive zone and create open shots for his teammates. Last season, he scored 26 goals but notably added 66 assists for a Blackhawks offense that otherwise struggled, averaging only 2.60 goals per game. He makes those around him better and helped create open shots for Alex DeBrincat, who scored a team-high 41 goals this season.
On the Islanders, Kane would not only open up the offense but help elevate the scorers on the team. He can play on a fast line with Oliver Wahlstrom and Mathew Barzal, two of the team’s best skaters, or play alongside two natural goal-scorers in Anders Lee and Brock Nelson, who had a career-year with 37 goals to carry the Islanders’ top line last season.
Ultimately, acquiring Kane would not only help an offense that struggled but, in one season, could turn the forward unit into one of the better ones in the league. The offense is searching for a scorer, but a skater who can control the puck and create open shots will likewise help improve the offense.
Kane is one of the most experienced players in the NHL. He not only has the playoff experience but the Stanley Cup experience as well, helping lead the Blackhawks to three titles in six years. Any team that acquires him is acquiring a player who has proven he can guide his team to a championship, and with the Islanders on the doorstep a few years ago, the move could put the team over the top.
Pieces Islanders Would Have to Trade
To acquire Kane, the Islanders would have to trade some of their young roster players and also likely have to move assets. One roster player could be Anthony Beauvillier, who, at 24-years-old, has proven he can become a top-six forward. But after taking a step back this season, he might thrive in a different role with a different organization. Additionally, the Islanders would likely trade the 13th-overall pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft along with a future draft selection. Considering the Blackhawks traded their first-round pick to acquire Seth Jones, they will be looking to reacquire draft picks to help fuel the rebuild.
Ultimately, the Islanders will face a high asking price for the face of the Blackhawks’ franchise and would be making a risky move to acquire a rental player, especially if the team struggles next season. However, the move would give the team a talented forward who can help carry the team to the Stanley Cup Final, as Kane did with the Blackhawks earlier in his career.