Despite 16 wins on the season in 25 games, while averaging 3.15 per game, there’s no question that the New York Islanders need to add a scorer at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline.
Could they go after recent foe, Chicago Blackhawks star, three-time Stanley Cup champion, and pending unrestricted free agent Patrick Kane?
The 34-year-old right winger has four goals and 10 assists in 24 games and a full no-movement clause, meaning he has complete control of where he ends up.
When the season began, it seemed fate would have Kane reunited with Artemi Panarin on Broadway. But with the New York Rangers’ struggles this season, the playoffs are anything but a certainty, which would put them out of the running since Kane wants to win now.
On Saturday, Kane and the Blackhawks faced the Rangers, winning 5-2 as Kane notched a goal and two assists. On Sunday against the Islanders, Kane did not find the scoresheet in a 3-0 loss, despite four shots on goal.
If you can’t beat them, you join them. That’s the saying, right?
Does New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello have the ability and pieces to get a deal of this caliber done?
Financially, the Islanders have $10.895 million to play with at the deadline and could fit Kane’s $10.5 million cap hit. The Blackhawks could also eat some salary, given that Kane is on an expiring contract, and most teams do retain in this situation.
Despite Kane being a superstar in the NHL, the asking price is not as extreme as people may think.
This past offseason, the Blackhawks dealt away a handful of players in Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach, also moving Brady Hagel at last year’s trade deadline as they racked up picks and prospects.
It may very well only take a few picks, a first and second-rounder, and a top prospect to acquire Kane’s skill set.
The best comparison to this situation is what transpired with Claude Giroux last season. The Philadelphia Flyers captain, on an expiring deal ($8.275 M) with a no-movement clause, made his way to the Florida Panthers for a first-round and a third-round pick, and top prospect Owen Tippett.
Giroux did not extend with Florida after being swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, signing with his hometown Ottawa Senators.
The Flyers retained 50 percent of Giroux’s contract ($4.1375 M) on that deal with Florida, and the Blackhawks are likley to do the same if Kane waves his no-movement clause, which would save the Islanders $5.25 million.
With that remaining dollar amount, the Islanders would also have the ability to acquire a defenseman, which is also a team need if the Islanders want to make a deep playoff run.
Now Kane is a better player than Giroux, which is why this Islanders offer includes a second-round pick. Aatu Räty is the Islanders’ top prospect at the moment and could be included as well, but he should not need to be involved in this transaction.
The Islanders have rid themselves of their first-round pick three consecutive drafts, but when you are a team in win-now mode, trading for an already proven NHL-caliber player always trumps an unproven product.
If the Islanders did bring in Kane, Lamoriello would not be giving up that draft capital for a rental. He would likely look to lock Kane up on a multi-year deal.
The belief that the Islanders’ window to win is closing fast is false.
Maybe the window to win with this specific group is closing, given that most of the forward group is over 30. But with Mathew Barzal signing an eight-year extension prior to the start of the season, that window remains open. He dictates the window, but winning a Stanley Cup will be impossible without another game-changing forward complimenting him.
Patrick Kane is that player.
All playoff hopefuls will likely be eying Kane, and it comes down to which team is willing to overpay for the product. Lamoriello may decide, as he has over his tenure as a general manager, especially on Long Island, that a trade for Kane may not be worth it, given the asking price. But a consistent, clutch goal-scoring threat is the missing piece to the puzzle for the New York Islanders, who have not made it to the Stanley Cup Finals since 1984.