New York Rangers Officially Acquire Patrick Kane from Chicago Blackhawks

Today the New York Rangers officially acquired Patrick Kane.

The Rangers sent a conditional 2023 second-round pick, a 2025 fourth-round pick, and Andy Welinski to Chicago for Kane and Cooper Zech. Welinski spent 40 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack this season, and posted a line of 4-12-16. Zech is a 5’9” and 161-pound defender that is 24 and has spent time between the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL, and the Indy Fuel of the ECHL.

This is a move that’s been in the works, and one that was dragged out due to the Rangers needing to go through a series of transactions to bank the required cap space to fit in Kane’s prorated salary after retention.

As part of the deal, there was retention and conditions on the draft picks.

With the move now official, the Rangers as constructed are what you will see for the rest of the season as they are now limited financially to the point where they can’t carry a full roster, barring something else out of nowhere. Per Cap Friendly, the team has a roster size of 21, and $119,387 in cap space available.

In doing so the Rangers are taking a risk, and banking on Kane being much more engaged and effective than he was with the Chicago Blackhawks. There’s also something to be said about the time it took this move to be made and the attention it has drawn adding to the pressure he will be under, something much different than when Vladimir Tarasenko was acquired.

But before we get into the on-ice numbers for Kane. there are things that at the very least need to be acknowledged.

*TW/CW for references to SA*

Kane is coming from the Chicago Blackhawks, an organization that was investigated in 2021 for failing to act promptly after a player accused a video coach of sexual assault during the 2009-10 season. Nick Boynton was a member of the 2009-10 Blackhawks, and he was interviewed by Jenner & Block during their investigation into Brad Aldrich’s alleged sexual assault of Kyle Beach.

Via Rick Westhead of TSN:

Boynton, who was joined on the video call by his lawyer, told four attorneys with the law firm Jenner & Block that he remembered how former Blackhawks forward Jake Dowell had first told him during the 2010 NHL playoffs that two of their teammates had been sexually assaulted by Brad Aldrich, who was then Chicago’s video coach.

Boynton told investigators that, at the request of those teammates, he approached skills coach Paul Vincent, hoping that the retired police officer would convince the club’s management to fire Aldrich and report the allegations to police.

Boynton, who played seven games with the Blackhawks in the 2009-10 championship season and 41 games with the team the following year, said in his Zoom interview that many of Chicago’s top stars knew about the abuse, based on their conversations in the locker room.

“They asked me who knew and I gave them names, basically everybody on the team,” Boynton told TSN in an interview on Wednesday. “I said everybody f---ing knew about it. I said you can talk to the coaches. …I said talk to Torch [former assistant coach John Torchetti]. I called out Brian Campbell, and said talk to Patrick Sharp and talk to Kaner [Patrick Kane]. …The training staff knew. I’m sick of this wall of silence.”

Westhead later added, “Dowell disputes Boynton’s recollection. ‘It’s foggy to me,’ Dowell said in an interview. ‘I remember after Brad was let go after 2010 we started to hear some rumblings, but I don’t know how much truth there was to it.’”

Beach himself also reiterated the notion of the team knowing, and even recounted facings taunts from it.

Via THN:

Beach’s testimony also refutes claims by former Blackhawks players that they were unaware of these allegations while playing for the team back in 2010. Since the initial report of Beach’s allegations broke, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, and team captain Jonathan Toews, among others, have all said they had no knowledge of the events at the time.

Beach, however, recalls a far different story, saying that teammates would berate him with homophobic slurs and taunts at practice that referenced his abuse.

“I believe everyone in that locker room knew about it”, he said.

During the NHL/NHLPA preseason media tour Kane denied knowing about the allegations, and later on once it was announced that Beach was John Doe, he was criticized, along with Jonathan Toews, for his show of support of Stan Bowman during his initial availability.

He also said he didn’t know if Beach would want to talk to him, and said he was sorry for not doing more.

Overall, Kane’s first round of media availability wasn’t well received, and he ultimately did a second one. This situation alone is very troubling, and Boyton and Vincent have been firm in standing behind their statements as the investigation went on, and when the findings were released. For those with a subscription to The Athletic, earlier this year Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers wrote a story covering the year after the report was released. The Blackhawks ultimately reached a settlement with Beach, and the confidentiality of that agreement means there will be a lot of questions that remain unanswered.

In addition, Kane has found himself in some troubling situations of varying degrees in the past. In the post Jeff Gorton/John Davidson era there’s been this focus in changing the spirit and the culture of the team. The specifics of that can mean a million different things, and looking at Kane and how he fits into that is something I think is valid, and that’s where I will leave things.

On the ice this season, Kane has posted a line of 16-29-45 in 54 games averaging 19:57 a night, and he also has a slash line that includes a 41.33 GF%, a 38.06 CF%, and a 36.87 xGF%. Here’s an analytical look at his current season via Evolving-Hockey.

Kane’s fallen off a cliff this season, and it is the continuation of a downward trend that includes an outlier of a 92-point campaign during the 2021-22 campaign in which he caught fire as a primary setup man for Alex DeBrincat.

At 5v5 he’s been struggling for quite sometime, even during the season with DeBrincat mentioned above.

He’s expected to play with Artemiy Panarin and Vincent Trocheck, and that’s a line that could potentially be all gas, no breaks in terms of offensive and a total disregard for defense. After the Rangers added Tarasenko, the expectation was that their big move up front had been made, but it is clear this was entertained because of the price being paid. There was some thought they could make another upgrade on defense, and potentially add defensively responsible forward, but instead they are banking on offense.

In some ways, this does feel like the Eric Staal trade, and I’ll explain why. The 2015-16 season was the last year Staal was under contract with the Carolina Hurricanes, the only team he had ever played for to that point. A team he led to a Stanley Cup and did many incredible things for. The franchise was going in a different direction, and with his own personal production in decline, Staal moved his no-trade clause to join his brother Marc on the Rangers. Does some of this sound a little familiar?

The fit wasn’t the greatest, and he was deployed on the wing even though he primarily played as a center for entirety of his career.

At the time of the trade, Staal had 10 goals, 23 assists, and 33 points in 63 games, and in 20 regular season games with the Rangers he put up a line of 3-3-6, and 0 points in 5 playoff games. The following year he found success with the Minnesota Wild, and he had a nice run there before his game fell off even more.

The biggest difference between the two deals are that Kane is going to be playing his natural position in the top six, whereas Staal was improperly utilized by Alain Vigneault. Kane’s also been a better player over the course of his career, but he’s older than Staal was when he was acquired.

As highlighted up higher, Kane’s overall value has been on decline. He’s had flashes of brilliance over the last few seasons, and he’s going to be expected to be a factor come playoff time. In Kane’s last three trips to the playoffs, he’s appeared in 20 games and tallied 4 goals and 14 assists for 18 points. Chicago last won a title in 2015, and during that run he posted 23 points in 23 games. There’s a chance he turns things around, but fans need to be realistic about what version of Kane is coming to New York. This isn’t ruling out him being than he’s been so far, but there are no guarantees.

The NHL Trade Deadline will officially come and go Friday, but don’t expect the Rangers to do anything else. The organization’s moves has been made, and the Rangers are hoping that Kane is going to give the team a boost up front to help them make a deep playoff run. They felt that adding another forward was a bigger priority than adding more defensive help, and time will tell if that was the correct move.

New York appears to be on a collision course for a first-round matchup vs. a New Jersey Devils squad that just added Timo Meier, and it has the makings of being a very tough series. The Rangers will look to close out the season as healthy as possible, as financially are limited in what they can do in the event of an injury. This is of note because they will unlikely be able to rest players down the stretch, unless there are some cap shenanigans involving emergency recalls.

We will see what happens, but it is clear Chris Drury wanted to make another big swing, and has put himself out there with his trade deadline acquisitions in an attempt to get the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final.