Photo credit:Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
The Maple Leafs are keeping an eye on free agent Patrick Kane
By Shane Seney3 months ago
Patrick Kane continues to rehab his hip close to home for the Maple Leafs, with reports that he’s been spotted skating this week in Oakville, ON, the hometown of Leafs captain John Tavares. Coincidence? Ease up, Sherlock Homes.
While Kane is starting to interview teams with his agent and it’s basically like July 1st for the two of them, the Maple Leafs are considered a long shot by several insiders and rightfully so. They should certainly be doing their due diligence, as a future hall of famer who could potentially help out your top-six is not something that just grows on trees – especially in the middle of November. Hockey insider Elliotte Friedman was recently a guest on Leafs Morning Take and confirmed the team has watched him skate. Friedman also made it clear it’s a two-way street and once Kane signs on with a team it’s because he feels they are a Stanley Cup contender. Haven’t seen much of that out of the Leafs of late.
Even on one hip, Kane put up 57 points in 73 games split between the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers and add another six points in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games. Yes, at times he was hurting more than others, and you could see him laboring on the ice, but that doesn’t look to be the case anymore. Kane is getting close to 100% healthy and a 100% healthy Patrick Kane is better than 80% of the NHL, even at soon-to-be 35 years old.
Kane’s Contract Demands a Mystery
The biggest elephant in the room is salary cap space and the fact essentially nobody around the league has any. Signing a player of Kane’s caliber after already assembling your 2023-24 NHL roster is going to be tough to navigate whichever team Kane decides to join. It does sound like a decision could be made before American Thanksgiving, according to multiple reports. We’ll likely see a trade happen first to free up the necessary cap space and then Kane’s signing announced. As of now it’s unknown if he’s looking for a one-year deal to try and win a Cup this season, or perhaps a three-year deal to finish off his career with the same franchise. Teams who appear to be heavily in the mix include the New York Rangers, Florida Panthers, Dallas Stars, Buffalo Sabres and the Maple Leafs. Out of these five teams, the Leafs would be the least likely, but it’s not 100% off the table just yet.
I published an article two months ago, stating the Leafs needed to at least check in on the price tag and it’s great to see GM Brad Treliving doing so. Yes, there would need to be some finagling done with the finances, as well as a trade taking place prior to the announcement but stranger things have happened. Would the Leafs move Tyler Bertuzzi to make room for Kane? It certainly won’t be TJ Brodie considering how bad the Leafs defense has been. John Klingberg seems like he’s untradeable at this stage of the season, so think again.
A contract which Kane’s agent is likely looking at to compare is Evgeni Malkin’s recent deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was 35 when he signed it, coming off injury concerns and an expensive long-term deal, and he landed a three-year contract at just over $6 million. Perhaps Kane considers a three-year deal at $15 million total? Or, a one-year at $5 million.
Kane Not a Great Fit in Toronto
The Maple Leafs are getting desperate for a defensive defenceman as well as production and stability out of their bottom-six forwards. David Kampf and Ryan Reaves are having brutal starts to the season and something has to change for things to turn around here before it gets out of hand. Kane isn’t going to solve any defensive woes and he isn’t going to sign on with the Leafs without Treliving having to ship someone out of town.
Kane normally plays the right side so he wouldn’t be getting in the way of Matthew Knies or Nick Robertson, and if the Leafs added him to the mix, there could be potential to move Nylander back to the middle of the ice and have Kane on the Leafs third line with #88. That could get awkward. Regardless of how fun it sounds to have Auston Matthews playing alongside a fellow American superstar on the team’s first power-play unit, adding Kane to Toronto is an absolute long shot. Treliving would need to pull off a couple of mini miracles and considering what we’ve seen out of him so far, a long shot is an understatement.
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