After tonight’s game between the Anaheim Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center, there remain just four home games for both Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to play prior to the March 3 NHL Trade Deadline. We’ve stressed to our CHGO Blackhawks listeners that the opportunities to potentially see Toews and Kane together as Blackhawks are dwindling and even outside of the calendar restrictions, those opportunities are coming and going as Toews will miss Tuesday night’s game due to a non-COVID illness that has kept him off the ice for the past three days.
I know what you’re thinking: ‘Oh, another article about trading Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Whoopie.’
But this is different now. Trust me.
Following the NHL All-Star break and the Blackhawks’ “bye week,” there’s at least some movement on the trade fronts for both players. On Monday, Patrick Kane spoke to the Chicago media about the upcoming deadline and dropped a bit of information that his agent, Pat Brisson, has come to him with a number of teams that would be interested in trading for him.
While we don’t know which teams have come to Kane through Brisson, if you’re paying attention to a number of NHL insiders and trusted people in-the-know, teams like the New York Rangers, Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche, and New Jersey Devils are likely in the mix.
When talking to the media on Monday, Kane also said that he has taken the opportunity to consider what it would be like to play elsewhere. “There are definitely opportunities out there that are intriguing and could be exciting. We’ll see.”
Following his comments on Monday, TSN’s Pierre Lebrun reported Tuesday night that after a conversation with Kane’s agent, Pat Brisson, a decision on Kane’s future is coming soon.
So now that Kane has been presented his options from Brisson, there appears to be potential movement from Kane’s end on creating a ‘shortlist’ of teams that he would consider being traded to. Of course, the ball is in his court with his full no-movement clause.
One thing that could hinder those plans for Kane, or that could be cause for Kyle Davidson to double and triple-consider any potential trade offer for Kane is his current injury status. If you’ve watched him play this season, you can tell Patrick Kane is not ‘Patrick Kane’ right now. He’s dealt with a “nagging injury” for the past few seasons, but has been able to play through the issue and put up well over point-per-game production in those seasons. But a mixture of injuries and quality of teammates this season have brought Kane down to more pedestrian production numbers this season when it comes to his standards.
Around the league, it’s no secret that Kane is hurt and teams are looking at him as a damaged commodity.
The Athletic’s Arther Staple recent wrote of Kane, “Seems like the whole league knows now that Kane needs hip surgery. If he doesn’t shut down the season and get the surgery soon to be ready for free agency and 2023-24, he’s going to be damaged goods.”
On the most recent episode of the ’32 Thoughts’ Podcast, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said he spoke to NHL players that have recently played against Kane and that they see him clearly playing through an injury. “They can see he’s really gutting it out. He’s not 100-percent. A couple really gave him credit for trying to play through what’s bothering him. They can really tell he’s not ‘Patrick Kane.'”
But ask Kane about it and you get the answer you would expect to hear: It’s not a problem.
This injury issue with Kane, whatever it is, has started to give me more pause when thinking about what the Blackhawks could get in return for Kane, and what teams may be willing to go out on a limb to do to get Kane when it’s clear he is hurt. Temper expectations. Bo Horvat’s return for the Canucks was a bit underwhelming. As was the return for Alex DeBrincat. There’s a real-world chance where Brandon Hagel nets more in return than Patrick Kane.
I also ponder if Kane, a very proud professional competitor, would say to himself that at the end of the day, he doesn’t have it in the tank this season to be an asset to a contending team when push comes to shove in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
And this is all moot unless Kane actually decides that he wants to be traded. Both he and Toews have the right to decide if they do or don’t want to be moved by March 3.
It’s not a given that either or both are on the way out just because their joint-agent has come to them both with some teams that are expressing interest. That’s doing due diligence on their part and on the part of Brisson to see what situations are out there and if they make the most sense for the player and the people around them.
Following morning skate on Tuesday, Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson spoke about what Toews and Kane could be going through when considering their futures. As a former NHL player with over 1,400 games under his belt and having been through being traded during his career, these are poignant words from Richardson on their situation.
We’ve heard from Jonathan Toews recently pondering his future and sound fully on the fence about what he wants to do. One minute he is thinking of Chicago in a past tense way, “I’m pretty thankful for what’s happened in my career. That’s the biggest thing — whatever happens, I can look back fondly and just be so grateful for everything I’ve had in Chicago,” then the next minute he’s sounding less than enthused about what might be out there for him, “you’ve got to remind yourself that the grass isn’t always greener. I’m pretty lucky to be a part of the Blackhawks family here. It’s not just the organization, it’s the training staff and our athletic trainers, our equipment guys, our strength coach, all those guys. We’ve become a family and I don’t really know what I’d do without those guys taking care of me.”
So who knows what happens?
At the very least, we stand on February 7 knowing that the options for both players are being laid at their feet and that the fabled “discussions” with Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson have not happened yet. Kane said on Monday that his plan since the summer between him and Pat Brisson was to take as much time up to the March 3 NHL Trade Deadline as possible to make a decision. I’d imagine it is the same case between Toews and Brisson. At the time of this writing, we are exactly 24 days away from that deadline.