What is Patrick Kane worth in a trade?
That’s a tricky question. Are we talking about an open market of 31 teams? Is it the start of the season or the trade deadline? Is Kane fully healthy? Is he just a rental or could he re-sign somewhere?
Undoubtedly, the can should be worth a decent tow, and the exact value will vary based on those variables. Although he was doubted due to his groin injury this season, he has shown that he can elevate his game to an even more elite level. In his last four games in a Blackhawks jersey, he scored seven goals and added three assists. He still is That boy He is worth a lot more.
The Blackhawks certainly thought so. They hoped Kane would at least waive his no-movement clause — and bring back a first-round draft pick and top prospect.
So how did this come about? How Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson acquired a conditional second-round pick in 2023 — which could become a 2024 or 2025 first-rounder — only if the Rangers reach the conference finals in a ridiculously loaded Eastern Conference — and less than a year removed from the franchise’s fourth-straight 92-point season in 2023. Rounder for best player in history? How was it better than most in the hockey world expected?
Well, trading is based on forex. And the Blackhawks have none.
“It is what it is,” said one Western Conference executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity so he could speak freely about another team. “They got something more than they got from Jonathan Toews’ expiring contract. You have to make the best of what you’re given. He gave them a team to work with.
If two things had happened, the Blackhawks might have gotten the package they wanted. For one, Kane should give the Blackhawks at least a few weeks to negotiate with teams. The trade season started earlier than usual this year, with Bo Horvat, one of the biggest names available, heading back to the Islanders on January 30th. Two, Kane wanted to go some places for the Blackhawks. to go
The Blackhawks were hoping both of those things could happen in early February. Based on what Kane and his agent, Pat Brison, said, the Blackhawks were optimistic.
But then time passed.
While Kane pondered his decision, the other teams didn’t wait. Big names kept coming up the board. Most notably, the New York Rangers acquired Vladimir Tarasenko for the kind of package — which included a first-round pick — that the Blackhawks were hoping for. It was always Kane’s No. 1 spot. It’s a market relatively close to his parents in Western New York, which would reunite him with former linemate Artemi Panarin (who helped him win the 2016 Hart Trophy as league MVP) and give him another shot at the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Kane’s surprisingly candid reaction to the Tarasenko trade, which seemed to rule out the Rangers as a potential destination for Kane, changed the dynamic. Kane said he was “not too happy” to hear about the trade and admitted he was “excited” by the idea of playing for Rangers. And Rangers GM Chris Drury certainly saw that. There were other teams interested in Kane — including Dallas, Carolina, Vegas and Edmonton — but it became clear Kane only had eyes for New York. And the Rangers knew it.
There was no end to Kane’s disappointment, further destroying any influence Davidson might have had. And so more time passed. And more players around the league were traded for first-rounders.
No one would say it publicly, but frustration was building within the Blackhawks organization over Kane’s dysfunction. The feeling around the league from other contenders was that Kane was frustrated, if not outright angry, that the Blackhawks had all but kicked him out the door in a blatant tank of scorched earth. Davidson traded Alex DeBrincat and allowed Dylan Strome to leave as a free agent over the summer. They were Kane’s linemates and closest friends on the team, and Kane took it personally that the Blackhawks didn’t help him increase his trade value. He loved the Rangers. And he was determined to get the Rangers.
So with the deadline looming, Kane wanted to see if Rangers were still possible. They were really interested, but like they did in the Tarasenko trade, they weren’t going to give up much. Especially without competition.
While Brisson and the Rangers were in talks, the Blackhawks still didn’t know what was going to happen. They were preparing for anything. They knew time was running out to make the kind of deal they were hoping for.
By the time Kane called Davidson on Friday night, the organization knew for sure what Kane really wanted: He would waive his no-movement clause to be traded to the Rangers. And only the Rangers.
“It peaked in San Jose before we moved on from that game,” Davidson said. “Yes, a couple of emotional conversations in San Jose. That’s how it all came to a head.
Davidson went to work with Drury. Davidson set his price, but Drury instead offered less and didn’t budge much. Drury had leverage and knew it. He knows the Rangers are the only team Kane would accept a trade from. He also knew the Blackhawks were going to do everything they could to do it to Kane. From Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz to president of business operations Jaime Faulkner to Davidson, the Blackhawks have been saying publicly for some time that if they want to trade Kane and Toews, they’re going to do it right.
That gave Davidson minimal bargaining power. He couldn’t walk away from the business even if he wanted to. It was an organizational mandate that Kane should not be held against his will. Once Kane says out loud that he wants a trade, Davidson is going to follow suit. That relationship – past, present and future – is critical to the organization.
So, Davidson fought as hard as he could. It might be a win for the Blackhawks that Davidson received a conditional second-round pick, Drury might have offered too little, and Davidson might have to accept.
Ultimately, Davidson knows Kane is worth more than that.
Drury does too.
But that was the offer, and the Blackhawks felt they had to take it — as much for Kane’s sake as for their own. So, they did.
“If you look at it from a pure hockey standpoint and from an asset return standpoint, it doesn’t count,” Davidson said. “But given the circumstances and the situation, we achieved what we wanted, which was to get Patrick into a team where he wanted to go. That’s the main goal here: to get some assets here, which we feel we’ve done, but mainly to repay a player who has done so much for the franchise.
(Photo: Chase Agnello-Dean / NHLI via Getty Images)