When Patrick Kane hits the Madison Square Garden ice on Thursday, the New York Rangers will become the Kanegers for a night. While it may not be Kane’s team, the superstar’s arrival, adding to a lineup already loaded with a plethora of talent, has allowed fans to dream of the sliver chalice that could come to Manhattan this upcoming June.
In a trade deadline unlike any other, which saw the Toronto Maple Leafs toughen up, the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders acquire scoring, and the league-best 47-8-5 Boston Bruins do both, the most popular team acquired the most popular player, even if he isn’t what he used to be.
Tuesday evening’s transaction that brought showtime to broadway in exchange for AHLer Andy Welinsky, a 2023 conditional second-round pick(Becomes a first in 2024 if the Rangers reach the Eastern Conference final), a 2023 fourth-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks, who retained 50% of Kane’s earnings and a 2025 third-round pick to the Arizona Coyotes for taking on 25% of his salary was inventible from the moment Chicago announced they were going into a rebuild.
It was only a matter of time until Kane and the organization he spent 16 years with, winning countless individual awards while bringing home three Stanley Cups, parted ways, and he would only waive his no-trade clause if it meant coming home.
The Western NY native was admittedly disappointed when New York went in a different direction with the acquisition of Vladimir Tarasenko and was outraged about them being concerned about his hip, which has bothered him in recent seasons.
So the 34-year-old, in the final year of his eight-year $84 million deal($10.5 million AAV) he inked on Jul. 9, 2014, responded by promptly recording seven goals and 10 points in his last four games as a Hawk, opening eyes yet again. Now, he arrives to complete a lethal top six of him, Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Vincent Trocheck, and Tarasenko, with Adam Fox manning the blue line and reigning Vezina Trophy winner Igor Shesterkin(Though. it’s Jaroslav Halak on Thursday), tending the goal.
“Our promise to you is that our singular commitment will guide our plans: ensuring we are building the foundation for our next Stanley Cup contender,” the Feb. 8, 2018 rebuilding letter signed by Rangers management read, and in the past year, we’ve seen a conference final run and now this stunning deadline articulated by GM Chris Drury who used his leverage wisely and managed to add while keeping the kid line and the team’s top prospects intact.
“There probably wasn’t another situation where we would have pushed the limits,” Drury said on Tuesday, “But to get a Patrick Kane, you don’t get an opportunity like that very often.”
What you also don’t get often are two all-stars practically pleading to their respective incumbents’ front office; they’d be dealt to broadway. “After 11 years of playing against each other, it’s nice we’re finally on the same team,” said Tarasenko, whose three-point night, including the overtime winner, lifted the Blueshirts to a 3-2 victory at the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.
These are win-now moves, as there is virtually no cap space left for management to work with after filling every hole you could’ve conjured by acquiring depth pieces in Tyler Motte and defenseman Niko Mikkola.
The Rangers don’t care if their new prizes expire in the offseason as long as the 29-year Cup-less drought is snapped and the fans are finally rewarded for their passionate loyalty and patience.
Indeed there remain questions surrounding this team as they’re measured against the meat-grinder that is the Metropolitan Division, let alone the Eastern Conference.
In contrast, others wonder how quickly Panarin and Kane will rediscover the prolific chemistry they generated in their 2015-2017 Chicago days before Artemi was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets, where they combined for 141 goals (26 game-winners), 205 assists, and 306 points including a Calder trophy won by the breadman, and a Hart Trophy awarded to the Kane train.
Those queries can only be answered by the players themselves, who’ll be rightfully judged on how far they go as a group in the tournament beginning Apr. 11. Until then, Rangers fans should enjoy nights like Thursday will present and relish in the fact the greatest American-born hockey player requested he’d be skating in front of them while appreciating a front office willing to go all-in to make that a reality. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s showtime!