The Chicago Blackhawks are entering a rebuild with the trades of Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach during the 2022 NHL Draft. Long-time core players in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews remain on the roster but for how much longer? They are both entering the final year of their respective contracts and the organization would prefer to acquire future assets and young players in trades for both of them to facilitate the roster’s remake.
Kane remains exceptional as he will be playing in his 16th NHL season in 2022-23. Given the franchise’s success earlier in his career, which included three Stanley Cup championships in six years, he wants to be a part of a competitive club again. The Blackhawks have struggled during the last five seasons, which they have only one playoff appearance and no postseason wins.
Some contending teams have been rumored as a suitor for the former first-overall pick in the 2007 NHL Draft should he inform the Blackhawks he is willing to waive the no-movement clause (NMC) in his contract. The New York Rangers are coming off of a year in which they advanced to the Eastern Conference Final and are poised to be a top franchise for the Stanley Cup next season. The addition of Kane may be what they need to win their first championship since 1994. Let’s take a look at why general manager (GM) Chris Drury should pursue a trade this offseason for one of the NHL’s elite playmakers.
Panarin and Kane Excelled Together With the Blackhawks
Artemi Panarin began his career with the Blackhawks and debuted on the same line with Kane. The formidable duo was one of the league’s top pairs during 2015-16 and 2016-17 and the Korkino, Russia, native could not have asked for a better linemate to ease his transition to playing in the NHL. The Blackhawks forward enjoyed playing with his former teammate and gave high praise to the Rangers’ star player.
“When I was playing with Panarin I felt like, for me personally, that was like ‘this is how hockey should be played.’ This was just two players combining their talents and having the chemistry… it wasn’t like anything was planned or set in stone. We just figured it out on the go. Then after 10 or 15 games you figure out the spots you want to go to. It became pretty natural playing with him. It was really, really fun hockey playing with him for those two years. For me personally, that was the most chemistry I’ve probably had with someone, just natural, instinctive chemistry to play hockey with someone. I’m glad I got to do that with him.”
If Panarin and Kane were to reunite, they will be dynamic for the Rangers as both established tremendous ability in playing on the same line. They will be getting a player who has a proven track record of winning multiple championships, which will be influential for a young team. They lacked consistent offense during the playoffs last year and the Buffalo, New York, native has been the definition of dependability during his 15-year NHL career.
The Addition of Kane Makes the Rangers a Candidate To Win A Stanley Cup
Given the Rangers’ drastic improvement last season, they have high expectations to make a deep run next year during the postseason. If GM Drury executes a trade for Kane, it signifies they are willing to give up assets in younger players and draft capital to win a Stanley Cup in the present. They are an organization that continually seeks to remain in playoff contention due to having the reputation of being involved in rumors to acquire top players in free agency or via trade.
In addition to playing with Panarin again, Kane would play well with Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Alexis Lafreniere, and Ryan Strome, if he is re-signed during this offseason. Kreider and Zibanejad are the best pairing for the Rangers and if head coach Gerard Gallant were to put Kane with the top duo, they would have one of the league’s top lines. The Blackhawks winger would play great with Kreider, who is coming off a season in which he tallied 52 goals in 81 games played. He would do well on their first power-play unit that consisted of Kreider, Zibanejad, Panarin, Strome, and Adam Fox last year.
With Andrew Copp reportedly entering free agency, the Rangers will need another playmaker to replace his offensive contributions. He is versatile and did well with their primary offensive core players in Zibanejad, Kreider, Panarin, and Strome. Kane is on another level in terms of his ability and is an upgrade should they acquire him in a trade. He makes them an elite contender for the Stanley Cup if they acquire him before the start of next season.
Whom Would the Rangers Need To Trade For Kane?
The Rangers have young players, which is what the Blackhawks are looking to accumulate as they are adding draft picks, prospects, and young players. They need to include a first-round draft pick, Kaapo Kakko or Filip Chytil, Braden Schneider or K’Andre Miller. GM Kyle Davidson may have interest in trading for a prospect on the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL) also. Chytil showed offensive potential during the playoffs after battling through bouts of inconsistency last year. Schneider displayed potential in his first NHL season and looks to have the talent to be a good defenseman. While they may be reluctant to part with young players, acquiring Kane is worth the risk.
The Blackhawks are trusting in their rebuild approach again as they won three Stanley Cups in six years due to the exceptional core that they drafted. With Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik not receiving qualifying offers and entering free agency, that represents more players who will not be a part of their process to retool their roster. Trading Kane would allow them to receive more young players and draft assets to usher in a new era for the Original Six franchise.
The Rangers have a chance to take advantage of the Blackhawks’ decision to undergo a rebuild by acquiring a future NHL Hall of Famer in Kane. If they trade for him, they have an opportunity to advance deep in the postseason for a second consecutive year assuming Fox, Kreider, Zibanejad, Panarin, and Igor Shesterkin all are healthy and playing well again. The chance to acquire an elite forward such as the Blackhawks’ right winger is worth the risk of the Rangers trading some of their draft assets and young players if they are looking to win a championship within the next few years. He is still playing at a high level and is one of the best players at passing the puck to set up his linemates to score goals. He would do an excellent job at creating opportunities for power-play goals for Kreider, Zibanejad, or Panarin if the four are placed on the same unit. He wants to get back to playing playoff hockey regularly and has won a Conn Smythe Trophy during the 2013 Playoffs to prove his value during the postseason. The acquisition would create excitement for the fanbase and send a message to them that they are ready to break their championship drought.