The internet is running crazy with rumors of the Columbus Blue Jackets kicking tires on Patrick Kane. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. This summer has been very busy and GM Jarmo Kekalainen has supposedly been involved in every opportunity to make a splash. If the rumors are true and the Blue Jackets are serious about bringing in Patrick Kane – what does that trade look like from our side?
Kane will be entering his 16th NHL season this fall, coming off of a 92 point season (the third highest total of his career). In 1107 career games, he has 430 goals and 1180 points. He’s a three time Stanley Cup champion, and is one of the greatest American born hockey players to ever lace up skates.
The Blackhawks have broken their team almost completely down and are in full rebuild mode, with an eye towards loading up draft picks and prospects. The last remaining holdouts include Kane, long-time captain Jonathan Toews, and former Blue Jacket Seth Jones. The Hawks are surely shopping any and all pieces, to try to add futures to their system. Kane has one year remaining on his contract, with a hefty $10.5M cap hit, after which he will become an unrestricted free agent.
From the Blue Jacket perspective, the roster reset is nearly complete. This summer saw them add Johnny Gaudreau and Erik Gudbranson, both of whom spent last season with the Calgary Flames. They’re pretty well loaded on the wings, with no less than 10 players competing hard for spots – and more on the way.
Truly, it’s hard to see why they would need yet another scoring winger. Especially with such a young roster that is likely several pieces away from contention – most notably a top line center. If the rumors are true, the only way I can see Kekalainen making this kind of deal is if it makes sense for the team in both the short and long-term. I have a hard time seeing him offering up future core pieces like Cole Sillinger, Kent Johnson, or even Kirill Marchenko. We can probably exclude any of the team’s top defense prospects: David Jiricek, Corson Ceulemans, and Denton Mateychuk.
One should also note that the Blue Jackets are pushed right up to the salary cap already. Signing Gaudreau meant having to trade away beloved fan-favorite Oliver Bjorkstrand – who was not only a victim of the cap, but also of the team’s glut of scoring wingers. For all of these reasons, I think a Columbus trade with Chicago only works out if the Hawks lower their rumored asking price, and take some salary back the other way. Here’s one option:
In this scenario, the cap problem is solved for both teams. Columbus stays below the high end of the cap, and Chicago gets help towards the cap floor for the next two seasons with Voracek. They pick up a potential 30 goal scorer, and a 1st round pick – though notably, not in the upcoming 2023 draft.
Frankly, if the cost goes much higher than that, I don’t see a deal being worth it for the Blue Jackets. Maybe you throw more into the deal if it comes with a contract extension that works for the next few years, but aside from that it’s only a guaranteed one-year rental on a player who has to slow down at some point. That’s risky.
Maybe if you can get that extension, you can throw in another prospect – though I still don’t think it will be any of the top guys mentioned above. My guess is someone from that next tier, Stanislav Svozil or Jordan Dumais come to mind. All of this said, the Jackets will have to outbid any other teams vying for his services. Would it be enough?
Even if it were enough, would Kane be willing to waive his no movement clause to be a Columbus Blue Jacket? Two months ago the idea might have sounded absurd. The Gaudreau signing surely seems to have changed that rhetoric, but only Patrick Kane could answer this question.
In all, the management group in Columbus has done a nice job compiling quality young pieces and finally seems ready to reap some of the benefits from it with a handful of NHL ready talent. Trading it away now, for a team not ready to contend, seems like a short-sighted move … much like the one made last summer in Chicago.