At his locker in New York Wednesday following his team’s game 7 elimination from the first round of the playoffs, Patrick Kane was asked where he would like to continue his NHL career.
One city notably didn’t come up: Chicago.
After 16 seasons with the Blackhawks, Kaner was sent to the Rangers at the deadline, in exchange for a conditional second-round pick this year, to finish out the season. With the Rangers now eliminated from the playoffs and headed into their offseason, he ventures into his next stage: free agency.
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Kane has never tested the waters of free agency in his 16-year career. As his entry-level deal in Chicago was coming to a close after the 2009-10 season, he signed a 5-year extension worth $31.5 million. Then, he extended again in 2014, signing for 8 years and $84 million on the same day that Jonathan Toews signed the exact same deal. He’ll finally hit the open market when that contract expires on July 1.
When he was asked about the Blackhawks, he had this to say about returning to the team:
“I haven’t really thought about that, to be honest with you. They’re rebuilding, and so that’s really never crossed my mind.”– Patrick Kane
GM Kyle Davidson had said in the past that he wanted to “clear the deck for organic growth”, telling reporters that he didn’t want the potential leaders on the roster to have to defer to Kane or Toews in hopes that they can come up the same way those two did. It’s clear to both parties that Kane isn’t a part of the Blackhawks’ plans going forward.
As things stand, the Rangers appear to be the favorite for Kane to return to next year. He said he’d “love to be back” with the team in the future. However, he did note that he’s had some lingering health issues as of late and isn’t quite 100%. That, coupled with his soon-to-be 35 years of age, could be reasons why New York wouldn’t bring him back. It was clear in this year’s playoffs that the chemistry among the stars they had collected wasn’t quite there, and they fell in the first round because of it, despite the tremendous amount of talent on the roster.
Additionally, various reports have suggested that the Rangers are about to make numerous changes in the front office and coaching staff. This new wave could be looking to put their own team together while getting younger, and Kane may or may not fit into those plans. His potential salary isn’t a non-issue either, as a player of Kaner’s stature could command something in the eight figures.
Blackhawks fans may have mixed feelings lingering about how Kane left things, some saying he held the organization at “gunpoint”, tanking his trade value. There may be equally mixed opinions on a potential reunion in Chicago, but those rumors seem to have been put to rest for now. Unless something drastically changes, Kaner has played his last game in a Blackhawks sweater.