They did it. They actually did it.
Nineteen days after trading for Vladimir Tarasenko to shore up their scoring on the right side, the Rangers somehow swung another deal for a superstar right winger — acquiring Patrick Kane from the Chicago Blackhawks.
When the Tarasenko trade was made earlier this month, it seemed like New York had made its big splash in the trade market. Kane, whose preferred destination was always the Big Apple, seemed resigned to the fact that this move wouldn’t happen.
“It’s not like the happiest I’ve been to hear about a trade,” an honest Kane said at the time. “I think the Rangers are a team that you definitely pay attention to and definitely are intrigued by, for obvious reasons.”
Did the Rangers become a better team with this trade? Absolutely. There’s something of a super team forming up front, with an abundance of riches and potential line combinations. While Tarasenko made some sense to play opposite Artemi Panarin since the two were good friends and familiar with each other, Kane would be an intriguing player to put in that spot now, given his productive history with Panarin in Chicago.
Down the middle, the Rangers boast Mika Zibanejad, Vincent Trocheck, and Filip Chytil as their top three options. On the left wing they have Panarin, Chris Kreider and first overall pick Alexis Lafreniere. On the right, it’s Tarasenko, Kane and second overall pick Kaapo Kakko.
That’s a deep collection of talent that could pressure on offence.
Did this trade address New York biggest need though? That’s up for debate.
The Rangers have the NHL’s 11th-best offence averaging 3.30 goals per game, and their 22.7 per cent power play also ranks 11th. At 5-on-5, however, their expected goals rate ranks somewhat lower — 21st in the league. These additions should help with that.
New York’s penalty kill, meantime, ranks 17th in the league and neither Kane nor Tarasenko will help that any great deal. The Rangers allow 29.1 shots against per game, seventh-best in the league, and at 5-on-5 have the 10th-best expected goals against rate per 60 minutes. They allow the 15th-most high danger chances per 60 minutes at 5-on-5, however, and often rely on their superstar goalie, Igor Shesterkin.
Time will tell if overloading on offensive firepower works out for the Rangers, as they try to get back to the Eastern Conference final, at least, for the second year in a row.
Kane arrives with 16 goals and 45 points in 54 games, which counts as a down year for him in his career. But he’s also motivated and on fire, scoring seven goals in his past four games.
Sitting third in the Metro Division, New York’s likely first round opponent is either the New Jersey Devils, who added Timo Meier, or the Carolina Hurricanes, who picked up Jesse Puljujarvi Tuesday, but who may have more moves up their sleeve.
With a break down of the Kane deal to New York, we turn to our scout Jason Bukala…
Before I wrote this, I took some time to survey the landscape in the Eastern Conference of the NHL.
Consider the top 10 teams in the overall standings before Tuesday’s games:
Now consider the reality that four of the top six teams in the entire NHL will have to play against each other in the first round of playoffs.
The New York Rangers have loaded up by adding Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane. The New Jersey Devils added Timo Meier. One of those two teams, if playoffs started today, would be eliminated in the first round.
The Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning have also invested assets and draft capital in the lead-up to the trade deadline. One of those two teams will also go down in the first round of playoffs.
It might be an anomaly — I haven’t broken down the historical data — but the fact the Western Conference is, on balance, more likely to see their top four teams have a better chance at advancing beyond the first round is something to take note of this season.
To the Rangers-Blackhawks blockbuster…
What Patrick Kane adds to the Rangers
He’s a future Hall of Fame inductee. Kane’s has had an electric career and his stats speak for themselves.
Before shutting things down in advance of the trade deadline, Kane was on an absolute heater. He scored an impressive seven goals and three assists in what turned out to be his last four games as a Blackhawk. He was motivated, and clearly wanted to send a message to any potential suitors (more specifically the New York Rangers) that he had lots to give still. And, perhaps more importantly, he let it be known that whatever nagging injury he has is something he can play through.
There’s no question Kane can have an impact offensively. But it’s also important to take pause and recognize there are nights he is having a difficult time with the consistent “track meet” that is today’s NHL. Before that four-game scoring streak, Kane was held pointless for four games and was a minus-5 over that span. (The previous four games, before that pointless stretch, he produced four assists.)
I’m trying to paint a realistic picture. When Kane is on, and playing up to speed, he contributes offensively and plays to his creative identity at even strength and the power-play.
When he’s off, he’s really off.
Chicago keeps adding to their draft capital, which is a positive. They remain focused on their rebuild. I’m sure the organization would have liked to get more for Kane, but the reality is he was in control of deciding the next stop in his career. The Hawks obtained what they could in this deal.
The Rangers add a Stanley Cup champion, proven playoff performer, and more importantly, a motivated Patrick Kane to their lineup. The bottom line is simple: New York is a better team with the addition of Kane. They haven’t sacrificed anyone from their lineup and the cost was affordable.