Inside the Patrick Kane trade: How it went down and why the Blackhawks got so little in return

What is Patrick Kane worth in a trade?

It is a difficult question. Are we talking about an open market with 31 teams? Is this the offseason, early season or at the trade deadline? Is Kane completely healthy? Is he just a rental or can he re-sign somewhere?

Arguably, Kane should be worth a decent move, with the exact value varying based on these variables. Even with doubts surrounding him due to his nagging hip injury this season, he showed he can still elevate his game to an elite level. In his last four games in a Blackhawks jersey, he scored seven goals and added three assists. He still is that Lighthouse. He is still worth a lot.

The Blackhawks sure thought so. They believed Kane should bring back a first-round draft pick and a top prospect if he were to waive his no-movement clause — at least.

So how did it come to this? How did Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson get only a conditional second-round pick in 2023 — which could become a first-rounder in 2024 or 2025 only if the Rangers reach the conference finals in the ridiculously loaded Eastern Conference — and a fourth-rounder in 2023. rounders for no arguably the greatest player in franchise history, one less than a year removed from a 92-point season? And how was it actually better than most of the hockey world expected?

Well, trades are based on influence. And the Blackhawks had none.

“It is what it is,” said one Western Conference executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so he could speak freely about another team. “They got something, which is more than what they get from (Jonathan) Toews’ expiring contract. You have to make the best of what you get. He gave them a team to work with.”

The Blackhawks probably could have gotten the package they wanted if two things had happened. One, Kane needed to give the Blackhawks at least a few weeks to negotiate with the teams. The trade season started much earlier than usual this year, with Bo Horvat, one of the biggest names available, going to the Islanders way back on January 30th. Two, Kane needed to give the Blackhawks a few destinations he would be willing to go.

The Blackhawks thought both of those things could happen in early February. Based on what Kane and his agent, Pat Brisson, said, the Blackhawks remained optimistic.

But then time passed.

And passed.

And passed.

While Kane pondered his decision, other teams weren’t waiting. Big names kept coming off the board. Most notably, the New York Rangers acquired Vladimir Tarasenko for the kind of package — which included a first-round pick — the Blackhawks were hoping for. It was always Kane’s No. 1 destination. It was a market relatively close to his parents in Western New York, it would reunite him with former linemate Artemi Panarin (who helped him win the 2016 Hart Trophy as league MVP), and it would give him a second chance to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Kane’s surprisingly candid reaction to the Tarasenko trade, which appeared to rule out Rangers as a potential destination for Kane, changed the dynamic. Kane said he was “not the happiest” to hear of the trade and admitted he was “intrigued” by the idea of ​​playing for Rangers. And Rangers GM Chris Drury certainly saw it. There were other teams interested in Kane – such as Dallas, Carolina, Vegas and Edmonton – but it became clear that Kane only had eyes for New York. And the Rangers knew it.

Kane’s disappointment was further marred by any influence Davidson might have had and was not accompanied by a decision. And so more time passed. And several players around the league were traded to first rounders.

Not that anyone is ever going to say it publicly, but there was growing frustration within the Blackhawks organization over Kane’s dismissal. Equally important was the feeling around the league from other suitors that Kane was just as frustrated, if not outright furious, that the Blackhawks all but forced him out the door by going scorched earth on the roster in an obvious tank. Davidson traded away Alex DeBrincat and let Dylan Strome leave as a free agent over the summer. These were Kane’s linemates and closest friends on the team, and Kane took it personally, making him less inclined to help the Blackhawks maximize their trade value. He wanted the Rangers. And he was determined to get the Rangers.

So with the deadline approaching, Kane wanted to see if Rangers were still a possibility. They were certainly interested, but they weren’t going to give up much, like they did in the Tarasenko trade. Especially without competition.

While Brisson and the Rangers had talks, the Blackhawks still weren’t sure what was going to happen. They prepared for anything and everything. They knew time was running out to make the kind of deal they were hoping for.

It wasn’t until Kane called Davidson on Friday night that the organization knew for sure what Kane really wanted: He would waive his no-movement clause to be traded to the Rangers. And only Rangers.

“It culminated in San Jose right before we moved on from that game,” Davidson said. “Yeah, a couple of emotional calls down in San Jose. It was kind of where everything came to a head.”

Davidson went to work with Drury. Davidson set the price, but Drury offered less in return and would not give much. Drury had the influence and knew it. He knew the Rangers were the only team Kane would accept another trade for. He also knew the Blackhawks were going to do everything they could to make it happen for Kane. From Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz to president of business operations Jaime Faulkner to Davidson, the Blackhawks had publicly stated for some time that they would do right by Kane and Toews if they wanted to be traded.

That left Davidson with minimal bargaining power. He couldn’t walk away from the trade, even if he wanted to. It was an organizational mandate not to hold Kane against his wishes. When Kane said out loud that he wanted the switch, Davidson would follow through. That relationship – past, present and future – is too important for the organization.

So Davidson fought for what he could. The fact that Davidson got the conditional second-round pick is likely a win for the Blackhawks, considering Drury could have offered much less and Davidson likely would have had to accept.

Ultimately, Davidson knows Kane is worth more than that.

So does Drury.

But it was the offer, and the Blackhawks felt they had to take it — for Kane’s sake as much as their own. So they did.

“If you look at it from a purely hockey standpoint and from a capital return standpoint, it probably doesn’t add up,” Davidson said. “But given the circumstances and the situation, we achieved what we wanted and that was to put Patrick on a team he wanted to go to. That’s the main goal here: hopefully get some assets here, which we feel we did, but mainly was to pay back a player who has done so much for the franchise.”

(Photo: Chase Agnello-Dean / NHLI via Getty Images)

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