Ever since Chicago started tearing down its roster over the summer, Rangers fans have speculated that forward Patrick Kane will be coming to New York to rejoin his old linemate, Artemi Panarin, at the March 3 NHL trade deadline.
Well, Kane was in New York on Saturday, but he still was on Chicago’s roster for a game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Still, the Garden crowd likely appreciated seeing the 32-year-old winger play up close because he could end up playing for the Rangers later in the season.
Kane, who scored his first power-play goal of the season Saturday night, entered the game with three goals and 14 assists in 22 games. His 17 points led Chicago and were more than the 15 total points the Rangers have gotten from their top three right wings — Kaapo Kakko (eight), Jimmy Vesey (five) and Vitali Kravtsov (two). He would be a nice fit on one of the Rangers’ top two lines, but there still is some work to do to get him in a Blueshirts jersey.
It was interesting that Kravtsov, who recently sat out eight straight games, was brought back into the lineup this past week. Chicago, which didn’t play Friday night, was in New York and able to get an up-close look at Kravtsov and the rest of the Rangers, who lost to the Ottawa Senators in overtime.
Kravtsov, bumped up to the second line with Panarin and Filip Chytil, scored his first goal of the season and had five shots on goal in 12:22 on Friday.
It seems to be something of a foregone conclusion that Kane will be coming to the Rangers at the deadline, but of course, there’s a long way to go until then.
There are salary-cap considerations the Rangers will have to work around to acquire the 16-year veteran, so general manager Chris Drury would have to get somewhat creative. And, of course, there is the question of what the return would have to be to get Kane, who is in the final year of his contract and is scheduled to become a free agent over the summer.
Kravtsov could be one of the assets under consideration whom the Rangers might send to Chicago in a trade for Kane, or any other scoring winger that Drury might target at the deadline. The rookie wing has had a hard time staying healthy this season — he had played only eight games entering Saturday — but this was the first time this season he had played in as many as three consecutive games. And in the last three games he played before Saturday, he looked good.
Drury already has done some maneuvering in an attempt to make it easier to acquire Kane. He was able to trade forward Ryan Reaves to Minnesota and shed his $1.75 million cap hit, and that has opened up some much-needed cap space.
The Rangers called up forward Jonny Brodzinski from AHL Hartford on Saturday because center Filip Chytil was a game-time decision with a lower-body injury (he didn’t play), so for the moment, they have the maximum 23 players on their roster. They’ll clear some space when they send Brodzinski back to Hartford.
Depending on how soon they can return Brodzinski to Hartford and get back to a 22-man roster, the Rangers would project to have somewhere between $4.8 million and $6.8 million in space at the deadline.
Kane carries a cap hit of $10.5 million, so the Rangers would have to get Chicago to retain some salary in order to fit him under their cap. They might want to get a third team involved, too, and have them retain some salary to further reduce Kane’s cap hit if they want to make other deals.
They could be interested in adding a veteran lefthanded-shooting defenseman for their third pair at the deadline, or before.