Patrick Kane Won’t Join Maple Leafs, Pass Torch to Matthews

The talk surrounding Patrick Kane and his possible future exit out of Chicago has picked up over the past few weeks. Speculation will likely continue as the Chicago Blackhawks prove themselves not to be a playoff team and clubs like the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs try to find pieces that make them Stanley Cup contenders.

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The Oilers have been linked to Kane for a couple of weeks now — even if a trade feels unlikely — and now buzz surrounds the Maple Leafs after a report surfaced that GM Kyle Dubas had brief talks with the Blackhawks about a possible trade. Both markets are hockey crazy and the idea of Kane on either team has fans and media members avidly discussing the odds of something going down.

Patrick Kane Chicago Blackhawks
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Paul Bissonnette had fun with the idea of Kane to the Leafs, noting on a recent episode of Spittin’ Chiclets that not only does he think Kane comes to Toronto, but that the forward will sign a low-cost extension to close out his career. He said, ”The rumblings have started and people are going to talk about the cap space as well, you’re gonna see the greatest, as it stands, U.S. hockey player to ever play the game, pass the torch to Auston Matthews in his final couple seasons.” He added, ”He’s going to probably re-sign after the $10 million he’s making and take a hometown discount just like [Mark] Giordano did, just like everybody else.”

Related: NHL Rumors: Oilers, Maple Leafs, Canadiens, Sharks

Acknowledging that Bissonnette is likely trolling all the talk about Kane being traded, there are plenty of reasons to debunk any idea that this would actually happen.

That Cap Space Issue For Toronto

First, Bissonnette glosses over the cap space concerns — the same ones the Oilers would have — but these aren’t exactly issues Dubas and the Leafs can gloss over. Kane makes $10.5 million this season and even at half of his salary retained by the Blackhawks, he’s not a player the Leafs can fit under their cap without moving other pieces or a third team getting involved. The Leafs have proven to be quite adept at working around the cap, but this is a bit much, even for them. They are $1.4 million over the cap with a contract still pending for Rasmus Sandin.

Kyle Dubas Toronto Maple Leafs
Kyle Dubas, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Second, the assumption Kane would be willing to sign a hometown discount as an American-born player when his value is going to be around $8 million on an extension is wishful thinking. Kane remains one of the most productive wingers in the NHL, he’ll be paid like it. What does a hometown discount even look like? It certainly won’t be in the neighborhood of Giordano’s extension.

Finally, what do the Maple Leafs give the Blackhawks that a team looking for draft picks and prospects would want? The Leafs have repeatedly traded away first-round picks in an attempt to win. That’s the very minimum it will cost to start a conversation with the Blackhawks.

Kane Will Value Winning

Suggesting for a moment that Kane wouldn’t be prioritizing money on an extension, that leaves location or the chance to win as his key motivators to stay in Toronto. The Leafs have yet to get out of the first round of the playoffs with this core and failing to do so again likely leads to wholesale changes. There’s no guarantee this team, as constructed, will be the team Kane opts to stay with in his final years. Specifically, Matthews only has two years remaining on his current deal. Even if the Leafs do win, he is set to become the highest-paid player in the league. How does that work for Kane?

So too, passing the torch to a player that may very well become the best American NHL player in history anyway doesn’t feel like an item Kane would want to check off his bucket list. Why help a player overtake you in that race? Why take a discounted deal to do so when the player you’re helping probably won’t?

Bissonnette’s idea is fun in theory, but about as unrealistic an idea as there’s been tossed around this summer. It assumes Kane is willing to leave millions on the table, Kane would be keen to help a team with which he has no history or a city to which he has few ties, and it assumes he’ll prioritize helping a star who threatens his legacy as the best the U.S. have ever produced.