SAN JOSE — The March 3 trade deadline is eight days away, which means a Patrick Kane decision should be coming any day now. And it appears his potential top landing spot is back in the mix.
According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the New York Rangers are not shutting the door on the possibility of acquiring the three-time Stanley Cup champion and former Hart Trophy winner, despite already trading for six-time 30-goal scorer Vladimir Tarasenko. They could still use a top-line right winger to bump down Jimmy Vesey in the lineup.
Kane, of course, wasn't shy about sharing his feelings on the Tarasenko trade that also included defenseman Niko Mikkola, even though he hadn't — and still hasn't — made a decision to that point.
"It’s not like the happiest I’ve been to hear about a trade," Kane said on Feb. 10. "I think the Rangers are a team that you definitely pay attention to and definitely are intrigued by, for obvious reasons. Obviously they made a move to get him and another big defenseman, so you’ve got to respect them going out and trying to make their team better.
"If things were going to happen, that was a team I was definitely looking at. It seems like they kind of filled their void and went ahead and made a deal, so it is what it is."
If there's legitimate mutual interest between Kane and the Rangers, it would take some serious gymnastics to make the finances work for New York. It's not impossible, though.
The Rangers could get Kane's cap hit to as low as $2.625 million by involving a third-party broker like Toronto did with Minnesota in the Ryan O'Reilly deal, but as of Thursday, the Rangers have $763,280 in cap space, according to Cap Friendly. Their projected deadline space is $908,667.
If the Rangers move out Vitali Kravtsov ($875,000 million cap hit) and Jake Leschyshyn ($766,667), it would get them to roughly $2.4 million. That's about $225,000 short of being able to squeeze in Kane's $2.626 million.
If they can't find a way to trade or waive another contract, the only other option for the Rangers is to wait until as close to the deadline as possible to make the trade so that the Blackhawks could accrue as much of Kane's remaining hit as possible.
Kane's daily cap hit is $56,757. Stretch that over an eight-day span — which leads right up to the deadline — and it's $454,056 total. That would be enough for the Rangers to fit in Kane and be cap compliant.
The challenge for the Rangers is they would have zero flexibility for the rest of the season, barring an injury, and could be forced to carry only 20 players on the active roster. There would be very little wiggle room, which wouldn't be the worst thing but still something they'd have to manage. Agreeing on the potential package might actually be the easy part for the Blackhawks and Rangers.
There might not be a hotter stick in the NHL right now than Kane, who has seven goals and three assists over his last four games. He's playing his best hockey of the season, and the thought of landing a red-hot Kane after already acquiring Tarasenko is probably making the Rangers salivate.
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