It’s been just over five months since Blackhawks legend Patrick Kane underwent a hip resurfacing procedure, a surgery that was expected to shelf him for four to six months. News of the procedure came after he played out the last few games of his eight-year deal, originally signed by Chicago, with the New York Rangers, who finished the season in disappointing fashion.
Though he wouldn’t be ready for the start of the season in early October, Kane was one of the most sought-after free agents of the summer. Now a month into the young season, though, 88 still hasn’t signed with a team. At the beginning of September, he told reporters he was “90 to 95 percent” recovered.
Now, it seems as if things are heating up for the 34-year-old star, who is still playing near the top of his game. Per NHL insider Elliotte Friedman, there are around eight teams vying for his services at this point. The five “frontrunners” seem to be the Rangers, Panthers, Red Wings, Sabres, and Maple Leafs, according to The Athletic’s Chris Johnston.
For Kane to sign with one of these teams, one of the two sides will have to give. The veteran intends to sign with a potential championship contender, and Toronto, Florida, and New York are in positions to get to the Stanley Cup. The problem: each of those teams would have to heavily manipulate what little room they have under the salary cap to make a high-dollar, short-term deal work with Kane. On the other hand, Detroit and Buffalo have plenty of cap space to work with, but it seems unlikely that Kane would sign with a team near the bottom of the standings.
The same piece by Johnston mentioned that Kane and his agent Pat Brisson “have started the process of speaking directly to those in the running for his services.”
Though Kane wasn’t quite at his best at the end of last season, he’s still a lethal scorer and a valuable top-line winger. Whichever team signs him will heavily increase its odds of taking home a championship as Kane searches for the fourth in his career.
Hockey fans may be growing impatient, but it clearly won’t be long before Kane announces his decision. For Blackhawks fans, yes, it’s an enticing dream to have him skate alongside Bedard on the top line this year. But it’s not happening, as GM Kyle Davidson has confirmed plenty of times. If not Chicago, then where will Kaner go? We’ll find out soon enough.