Rangers: Pros and cons to a potential reunion with elite winger Patrick Kane

Detroit Red Wings right wing Patrick Kane (88) (New York Rangers)
Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers were in the spotlight last season when they made a blockbuster trade for NHL superstar Patrick Kane. The Blueshirts were gearing up for what was expected to be a dominant postseason run, but their efforts fell devastatingly short with a first-round exit. Following their defeat, New York was not able to re-sign Kane due to their limited cap space.

Kane is now playing on a decent Detroit Red Wings team. They had a rough start to the year but have since picked up the pace, as they now currently sit in the first wildcard spot of the Eastern Conference. There’s no way of telling how well the Red Wings will perform for the remainder of the season, but one thing is certain — if Detroit’s playoff hopes fade away by the trade deadline, there’s a good chance that Kane could be on the move again.

Kane and his time with the Rangers are a massive controversy among the fan base, as the community is divided on whether or not the Blueshirts should pursue another stint with the future Hall of Fame winger.

Con: Kane is experiencing yet another lower-body injury

One of the main reasons why Kane struggled during his short time with the Rangers was a hip injury he had to play through. It tarnished his elite abilities and turned him into an average player at best. Since then, Kane has gone on to have surgery and make a full recovery from his hip. He’s recorded 16 points in 19 games this year with Detroit, proving he is back to his old self.

Just recently, Kane was injured again during Detroit’s victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. HC Derek Lalonde said the organization needed a bit more time to get a full diagnosis of the severity of this new injury, and there haven’t been many details released since then.

Per ESPN, it is confirmed that this lower-body injury is not related to his hip. Despite this, there is no timetable for his return. While there’s a good chance that Kane may be back at full health by the time the deadline arrives, it’s probably for the best that the Rangers avoid potentially acquiring an injured Kane for the second time.

Pro: The Rangers’ new coaching style implemented by Laviolette may be a better fit for Kane

The Rangers chose to fire HC Gerard Gallant after last season’s playoff exit, and it was for good reason. He somehow found a way to turn a dominant super team on paper into one of the most embarrassing playoff performances in the league. His laissez-faire approach to coaching the Rangers hurt the team, and it certainly affected the impact that Kane could make.

Now that Peter Laviolette has taken the mantle of the Rangers’ head coach, he has implemented a new coaching style that prioritizes defense — an area that Kane seriously lacks. It’s worked wonders for Artemi Panarin, another star who suffered from the same qualities, so there’s a chance that Kane too could thrive under Laviolette. The initial Kane experiment may have failed the first time, but a second opportunity would be in an entirely new atmosphere.

Con: The Rangers might not need a new top-six forward anymore with one of their key players returning from injury

The main reason why fans have called on the Rangers to re-acquire Patrick Kane was due to the gaping hole left on the first-line right wing. Blake Wheeler, among multiple other forwards, had tried and failed to be a suitable addition to the top unit alongside Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. But at this point, there is a chance that the Rangers don’t need to make another massive trade.

Kaapo Kakko recently returned from what was nearly a two-month absence from the team due to injury, and he is already making a major impact on the first line. He scored a Tuesday evening in the Rangers’ victory over Seattle and has drastically improved the even-strength production from Zibanejad and Kreider in such a short time. With Kakko holding down the first line, and Alexis Lafreniere breaking out on the second, why would the Rangers need to go out of their way to trade for Kane?

Pro: Kane’s contract comes at a much more affordable price this time around

As previously stated, the main reason why the Rangers weren’t able to re-sign Kane after last season was their limited salary cap space. He and the organization had tried to work out a way for him to return, but it just wasn’t possible given the circumstances.

When Kane finally signed with the Red Wings, his cap hit ended up being just $2.75 million. This is a number the Rangers might have been able to afford at the time, but they would have needed to move some of their players at a time when the trade market was dry. But now, it shouldn’t take too much work for GM Chris Drury to make room to afford Kane — especially when the Red Wings could be persuaded to retain a maximum of half of that salary.

Vladimir Tarasenko is another former Ranger that fans have wanted to return this season, as he had much more of an impactful tenure than Kane. But with his cap hit being almost double that of Kane’s, it would present a much more challenging task for Drury to be able to pull it off. When it comes to affordable options the Blueshirts have at this deadline, Kane is somehow one of them.

Conclusion: Trading for Patrick Kane is not worth the risk

Considering the fact that he has another injury, and has failed to produce on the Rangers’ top line in the past, it’s for the best that the Blueshirts move on from Kane and look elsewhere to bolster their first line. Laviolette may be able to bring more out of the star than Gallant could, but the Rangers already have a solid winger in Kakko. If Drury intends on bolstering this roster at the trade deadline, there are many better options out there than taking a second crack at Kane.

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