The Chicago Blackhawks begin training camp Sept. 18, and the big question is whether Patrick Kane will be present at camp, or even on the team at all.
The possibility of Kane being traded seems to be gaining momentum, as Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times reported at least five teams have reached out to the Blackhawks about acquiring Kane in a trade. The rumor stems from a rape investigation involving Kane related to an event that allegedly occurred Aug. 2 at his home in Hamburg, N.Y.
It’s important to note that Kane has not been charged of any crime. However, could this be the final strike for Kane, who has had several off the ice issues? The Blackhawks are revered by many as the model franchise in the NHL and image is everything for John McDonough. Does Kane’s talent outweigh his transgressions?
On the ice, Kane is as dynamic as it gets. He’s scored 205 goals and racked up 557 points in eight seasons with the Blackhawks. He’s only 26 and is about to enter the first year of his eight-year, $84 million contract. That investment makes this incident even harder to swallow.
Who could potential suitors be for Kane and what would the potential return be for the Hawks? That question has a few different dimensions to it. Keep in mind, this is all hypothetical.
First off, a team that wants to acquire Kane has to have a surplus of cap room, as that team would likely have to take on most, if not all of Kane’s $10.5 million annual salary. Some teams that do have the room and could use a scorer like Kane are the New Jersey Devils (more than $14 million in cap room), the Arizona Coyotes (about $12.8 million in cap room), the Carolina Hurricanes (almost $12 million in cap room), the Florida Panthers (about $11.5 million in cap room) and the Buffalo Sabres (about $11.3 million in cap room).
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It’s easy to notice that many of these teams are rebuilders and a couple have some enticing prospects the ‘Hawks could get back in return for Kane. The Coyotes and Panthers are enticing in particular because of their enriched minor league systems that are loaded with prospects. Of course, the Sabres are Kane’s hometown team and there was plenty of hype surrounding a potential Ryan Miller-for-Kane trade a few years back.
A 26-year-old winger in the middle of his prime should garner an enormous return regardless of the salary. But, are teams willing to take on the potential off-ice baggage for Kane’s services? That could mitigate Kane’s value, but it likely wouldn’t take much leverage away from the ‘Hawks, especially since teams are already contacting Chicago in the midst of Kane’s rape investigation.
Once again, it’s important to note that Kane has not been charged of any crime and there are no official trade negotiations that are known about.
The Blackhawks have paid the price for winning championships via the salary cap, but are they willing to possibly damage the pristine image the franchise has developed during its turnaround from a punch line to a dynasty if Kane is charged of a crime and even worse found guilty? That’s what the ‘Hawks must figure out during the coming weeks as their title defense begins.