This year’s trade deadline targets are relatively unexciting. JG Pageau and Tyler Toffoli are two of the hottest names on the trade market; good players, but they’re not going to be the type of guys that catapult the Isles from contention to contenders. Led by Barry Trotz’s system, the Islanders have one of the best defenses in the league. They won the Jennings Trophy last season and have given up the third least amount of goals thus far. In the Trotz era, the Islanders are 61-3-4 when they score three goals or more. If the Isles were able to reach that three-goal mark consistently, statistically speaking, they would be one of the most dominant teams of all-time. The Chicago Blackhawks find themselves last in the Central Division, and they will not be competing for a Stanley Cup anytime soon. Their star players are producing, yet do not seem like they will be apart of the next era of Blackhawks hockey. Odds are Stan Bowman won’t want to deal Patrick Kane, but if he’s willing to listen, the Islanders must go after him.
Why the Blackhawks should trade Patrick Kane
If the Chicago Blackhawks decide that they aren’t going into full rebuild mode, then there’s no point in speculating. However, if they want to get the most they could for their top assets, now is the time to start dealing. The Blackhawks haven’t been Stanley Cup contenders since the 2016-17 season and have missed the playoffs the last two years. Unless they completely change their season around, the Hawks will find themselves golfing in early April. The two teams that have been most like the Blackhawks in recent history are the Los Angeles Kings and Detroit Red Wings. The Kings and Red Wings, similarly to the Hawks, believed that their windows were still open and refused to succumb to the full rebuild. Detroit and LA have not recovered since their playoff years and seem like they are years away from former glory. As the 8th worst team in the league, the Blackhawks have no chance of the playoffs. History and analytics dictate that it’s better to go after the top picks in the draft than continuing to draft in the middle of the lottery. Just back in September, the Blackhawks were ranked with the 13th bets farm system in the NHL. With a slightly above average prospect pool, Chicago will have to acquire young talent. The average rebuild takes a little over four years to complete, and since I’d contend that the Blackhawks had only truly begun this phase last year, the end of the Hawks rebuild coincides with Kane’s expiring contract. Stan Bowman is considered one of the worst general managers in the league, leading to the belief that the Blackhawks rebuild is likely to take longer than usual.
Outside of their budding stars in Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach, only Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane would garner serious interest on the trade market. Forwards come at a premium, and potential all-star forwards start a firestorm. Patrick Kane has more value than Jonathan Toews. He’s averaging more than a point per game and shows no sign of slowing down, even with a good amount of mileage. If Kane did not play on one of the worst teams in the NHL, he’d be in the MVP conversation. Considering the Hawks will not be championship contenders for another couple of years, it’s not crazy to suggest that Bowman should explore trade partners for Patty Kane.
As a 31-year old, Kane is at the back-end of his prime and will eventually begin to decline. The Blackhawks got multiple Stanley Cups out of Kane, and it appears as if only a miracle would put the Hawks back into cup contention. The ultimate saying in the stock market is “buy low, sell high.” Stan Bowman has an opportunity to trade away Patrick Kane before his career begins to turn. Kane holds a cap hit of 10.5 million per year for the next three seasons, an unnecessary expense for a team looking to rebuild. There’s no reason for the Hawks to pay Patrick Kane this much money as his career timeline does not match up with that of their young developing players. To expedite the rebuild, the Blackhawks should acquire as many picks and high-end prospects as possible. But why would Patrick Kane be interested in leaving the place he’s called home since 2007?
Why Patrick Kane should consider leaving
Stanley Cups are the ultimate award for any NHL player. Kane has won it three times in his career, but that does not mean he’s sick of going after another championship. His contract has a no-move clause, forcing all trades to be approved by him first. Every hockey player grows up dreaming about competing for the Stanley Cup, not watching another team claim the prize. With the Blackhawks years away from contention, why would Kane want to waste the back-end of his career on a losing team? The Islanders could provide Kane with an opportunity to make numerous runs at the Cup. Publicly, Kane has stated his desire to win now. If he stayed in Chicago, he wouldn’t be winning anytime soon.
Why the Blackhawks and Islanders fit as trade partners
What the Islanders lack in prospect depth, they hold in high-level skill. Oliver Wahlstrom and Noah Dobson have shown flashes of brilliance either at the AHL or NHL level. It’s not a question on if both players will be on the Islanders roster, it’s a matter of when. Kieffer Bellows is on an unworldly tear, scoring 12 goals in his last 16 games. Bellows was perceived as an underachieving prospect but had turned it on as of late with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Ilya Sorokin is arguably the best goalie not in the NHL, playing lights-out for CSKA Moscow for the past couple of seasons. Sorokin would generate a ton of interest if he made it clear to Islanders management that he wanted to play in the NHL, just not on Long Island. Simon Holmstrom and Bode Wilde round out the Isles prospect pool, even though they are not as highly regarded. In addition to top-end prospects, the Islanders hold all of their draft picks for the next three years. The Islanders have the pieces to make a trade work, but would Patrick Kane fit on the roster?
Patty Kane would fit on any NHL roster. He can score goals, lead an offense, and knows what it takes to win. If Lou Lamoriello somehow acquired Kane, the Islanders would instantly jump from contention to without a doubt, one of the best teams in the league. After the 2018-19 season, Barry Trotz said that the Islanders needed more “pop up front,” and Kane would provide some of the biggest “pop” in the league. Imagine Patrick Kane and Mathew Barzal on one line? That’d be like watching an all-star team every time they took a shift. Even if Kane didn’t play on the first-line and Trotz decided to give each line on the top-six an all-star, the Islanders offensive woes would be over.
How the Islanders could make Patrick Kane’s contract work
While the Islanders have a lot of prospects and draft picks to send Chicago’s way, Lou Lamoriello would have to be conscious of the fact that the Islanders need to sign Mathew Barzal, Ryan Pulock, and Devon Toews this offseason. To make a potential trade work, the Islanders would have to trade away some salary cap to acquire Kane. Guys like Leo Komarov, Josh Bailey, Andrew Ladd, and Johnny Boychuk are all on large contracts and seem the most likely to get dealt. Komarov and Boychuk are on modified no-trade clauses, while Ladd is on a full NTC. Josh Bailey has no such provision in his contract and would make a trade for Patrick Kane more feasible. Bailey still has some years left in the tank but has been underproducing this year with only 23 points. This past offseason, Lamoriello was going hard after Artemi Panarin before he decided to sign with the Rangers. Obviously, Lamoriello had a plan in place if Panarin came to Long Island. His cap hit would have been six million dollars larger than Anders Lee’s, making it likely that the Islanders knew how to handle their cap situation by adding the Russian-winger. The Isles would have to move some money around, but they could make a Patrick Kane trade work financially.
The Islanders have one of their best chances in franchise history to go after the Stanley Cup. Last year, the Lightning and Bruins seemed invincible. The only club that has consistently performed this season is the Washington Capitals, a team the Islanders have proven time-and-time again that they can compete with. If the Blackhawks are willing to part ways with their superstar, Lou Lamoriello must be the first general manager on the phone. There’s potential this season for the Isles, and Patrick Kane could be the guy that sets the team over the edge. The only negative associated with trading for Patrick Kane would be signing Mathew Barzal, Devon Toews, and Ryan Pulock this offseason. For a franchise that has not had much to root for since the 80s, it’s time to roll the dice.