The Chicago Blackhawks are slowly inching their way toward a deep rebuild. After countless seasons of going back and forth on competing, general manager Kyle Davidson has fully embraced the tank. As a result, this season's trade deadline proves to be perhaps the biggest event of the year for the Hawks. Big fish Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are in the final years of their contracts, and it looks like the perfect time to gather assets to aid in ushering in a new era.
However, Kane's uncertain future with the Blackhawks has raised more questions than provided answers. The 2022-23 season has not been kind to his stat line, and as of now, he's managed to net 35 points in 46 games. While his numbers are respectable, it's a far cry from his traditional "far above point-per-game" performances from years past.
Due to Kane's down numbers, there's been lots of speculation that teams will be unwilling to give up high-end pieces to make a trade go through. Assuming he waives his no-movement clause and opens the door for a move, teams might be throwing low offers the Blackhawks' way. As a result, there's a real possibility that they lose any trade involving Kane.
There is a possibility that the Blackhawks end up keeping Kane, which would make sense considering how long he's been with the team. Unlike many big-name pending free agents, Kane has never struck me as a player who is looking to get the biggest payday he can. He has a strong dedication to Chicago, and it's hard to believe that he would want to finish his career somewhere else.
At the same time, Kane undoubtedly wants to win another Stanley Cup. No NHL player exists that wants to lose. If he accepts a deal out of Chicago, the Blackhawks always lose because a big piece of the heart and soul of their team is gone. One more tie to the dynasty era would be taking up a new story elsewhere.
Theoretically, though, let's say the Hawks are able to facilitate a trade that sends Kane out of Chicago. What would the asking price be? Well, it would seem to be a no-brainer that a first-round pick should be involved. However, that is already where the issues start popping up. It seems the general consensus this season is that Kane is not worth a first-round pick.
In previous years, whether or not Kane was worth a first-round pick would have been a joke of a question to anyone who knew his name. Kane would have easily been worth multiple first-round draft picks, and that's not even including the likelihood that some at least decent prospects would have been involved as well.
That leads the Blackhawks to an interesting question. Should they hold firm on getting their desired return on a Kane trade, or should they cave and recoup as many assets as they can knowing there's a chance he walks at free agency this year? It's a tricky situation, and the answer may not be clear cut.
As ludicrous as it sounds, there may be some pressure on Davidson to accept a trade for Kane at a lower price. This is going to be his first time handling a trade that involves a legitimate superstar caliber player. It's not a guarantee that he fumbles the ball, but it's possible that increasing pressure to accelerate a rebuild leads him to make a decision he otherwise would have spent more time considering.
What will happen with Patrick Kane? It's something we may have no answer on for the time being. However, one thing is for certain. If Brandon Hagel managed to fetch a bigger return than Kane does at the trade deadline, my mind will be absolutely torn apart.