A report came out back in mid-July that the Edmonton Oilers had kicked tires on Patrick Kane.
The rumour died down a little bit after it was reported that Kane wasn’t ready to leave the Chicago Blackhawks, the team he’s been playing with his entire NHL career, but it popped up again a few days ago when Bob Staffer said on Oilers Now that acquiring Kane is the team’s “Plan A.”
Stauffer added fuel to the fire on Twitter on Tuesday when he noted that the Oilers have a strong group of players aged 22 or younger and that trading the 2023 first-round pick wouldn’t be an issue if it brought an “impact player” back to Edmonton.
The @EdmontonOilers have 6 pretty good 22-and-under players/prospects:
Evan Bouchard 1/10/18
Ryan McLeod 2/40/18
Philip Broberg 1/8/19
Dylan Holloway 1/14/20
Xavier Bourgault 1/22/21
Reid Schaefer 1/32/22
Would have no issues moving a 2023 #1 in a package for an impact player.
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) August 23, 2022
When there’s smoke there’s fire, and that’s especially the case when it comes to Stauffer, as he’s teased the idea of the Oilers acquiring players before them ultimately doing so multiple times in the past. Saying that Kane is Plan A and then saying the Oilers are willing to move their first-round pick within a matter of a few days likely means that something is brewing.
So, with all that in mind, this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday TUESDAY EDITION question will be about Patrick Kane and how much the Oilers should be willing to give up in order to acquire him.
What would a Patrick Kane trade look like?
Kane is a three-time Stanley Cup champion and a Hart Trophy winner coming off of a 33-year-old season in which he scored 92 points on a very bad team. It obviously isn’t easy to find a comparable situation in which a player like this was traded.
The name that comes to mind as a comparable is Martin St. Louis, who was traded from the Tampa Bay Lightning to the New York Rangers the year after winning the Art Ross Trophy for the second time in his career. The deal was St. Louis and a second-round pick in exchange for Ryan Callahan and two first-round picks.
The difference here is that the 2013-14 Lightning were a playoff team whereas the 2021-22 Blackhawks clearly aren’t, so Chicago will be seeking a much different return than Tampa was. In order to determine what the Hawks might be looking for in return for Kane, we can take a look back at the moves they’ve made since starting their firesale.
Since officially naming Kyle Davidson as their general manager back in March, all of the Hawks’ moves have been focused on the future. Back at the draft in July, Chicago traded Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators for two first-round picks and a third-round pick and they traded Kirby Dach, who’s only 21 years old, to the Montreal Canadiens for a first- and a third-round pick, which clearly signaled that the team was entering a full-on rebuild.
Both the Sens and Habs were non-playoff teams who could offer the Hawks high draft picks, so the deal from the Davidson era that syncs up best with Edmonton’s current situation is when they traded Brandon Hagel to Tampa Bay for two first-round picks and a pair of young players breaking into the NHL, Boris Katchook and Taylor Raddysh.
Also, a Kane to Edmonton deal can’t just involve draft picks and prospects because of his large salary cap hit. Kane has one more year left on his contract worth $10.5 million against the cap and the Hawks can only retain 50 percent of that money. Unless the Oilers and Hawks involve a third team, the least Kane could cost the Oilers against the cap is $5.25 million. Given the Oilers are already over the ceiling, they’d need to send more than that amount back to the Hawks to make this work.
If the Oilers are going to take on a $5.25 million contract, the obvious place to start is with Tyson Barrie going the other way, as he makes $4.5 million annually for two more seasons and has been passed on Edmonton’s depth chart by Evan Bouchard. Edmonton would need to send another contract back to Chicago beyond Barrie in order to make this work, and the name that stands out is Jesse Puljujarvi.
There was talk early in the off-season that Puljujarvi wanted a change of scenery and that the Oilers were fine with moving him. But just as we saw the last time around with a Puljujarvi trade request, Ken Holland isn’t going to give the young Finn away in a deal that doesn’t improve the team.
Puljujarvi wound up inking a one-year deal worth $3 million ahead of his scheduled arbitration hearing. He’ll again be a restricted free agent next summer.
The gripe between Puljujarvi and the Oilers is that the player wants to play in the top-six while the team believes he’s a better fit on the third line. The former No. 4 overall pick has had some brilliant flashes since he returned to the Oilers from his season in Finland but he’s also gone ice cold for prolonged periods of time. The numbers indicate a player who drives play in his team’s favour but the eye test shows he has a hard time finishing the opportunities that his line generates.
Adding Kane wouldn’t make Puljujarvi’s desire to play in the top-six any easier, as he’d be behind Kane, Kailer Yamamoto, and Zach Hyman, who plays both sides, on the depth chart. Playing in the top-six of the Blackhawks wouldn’t be too difficult, as Puljujarvi’s competition on a Kane-less Blackhawks squad on the right side would be MacKenzie Entwistle and Taylor Raddysh.
Does this actually make sense for the Oilers?
If Barrie and Puljujarvi are the base in order to make a Patrick Kane trade work financially, how much more should the Oilers be willing to give the Blackhawks to get it done?
Kane is still a very good player, as he’s coming off of a season in which he scored 26 goals and 92 points on a team that finished 28th in the league in goals scored. Kane also carries a lot of experience with him, as he won the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks three times and has played in 136 playoff games with the team.
Adding Kane to an already strong good offence would give the Oilers the best forward group in the league by a pretty sizable margin. But the Oilers have question marks surrounding their blueline, so acquiring Kane, who will be expensive both in terms of contract and draft and prospect capital, might make it difficult for Holland to make a move for an impact player during the season.
Looking up and down the list of defenders who are set to become free agents next summer, some interesting names who could be available to the Oilers come trade deadline 2023 are Philadelphia’s Travis Sanheim, New Jersey’s Damon Severson, and Minnesota’s Matt Dumba.
This is ultimately a balancing act for Holland. Kane would certainly be a significant addition to the team’s already-good offence but the Oilers also need to have enough flexibility to make other in-season moves to fill the holes on their roster as they arise. They also don’t want to trade away too many prospects who are on the cusp of contributing at the NHL level on an inexpensive entry-level contract.
What say you, Nation? How much would you be willing to give the Blackhawks in exchange for Patrick Kane? Does acquiring Kane make sense when there are other holes on the roster?