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Playing GM: Trading Patrick Kane to the Oilers

Mario Tirabassi Avatar
September 14, 2022

There have been plenty of rumors, or rumours, or rumorz even, flying around the internet surrounding the future trade of Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane. It’s just now turning to September on the calendar and the inevitability of a Kane trade feels as high as it ever has. If this is already bumming you out, feel free to go back and read my recent piece on what could lead to both Kane and Jonathan Toews deciding to stick around in Chicago.

In recent weeks, Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson has told him that neither player has approached him with a trade request. So there you go. Both expressed desires to see how the season begins to play-out and go from there.

For this exercise though, we’ll assume the “tank” is working as it should for the Blackhawks this season and Kane has endured enough to make his decision to ask for a trade out of Chicago and to a likely Stanley Cup playoff contending team: the Edmonton Oilers. I’ll be playing the role of Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson, while The Athletic’s Jonathan Willis will be playing the role of Oilers GM Ken Holland while we work to facilitate a Patrick Kane-focused trade that helps both sides. Again, this trade would be happening well into the season, perhaps right up to the trade deadline, so these trade offers should be viewed as “rentals.”

As a Blackhawks fan and in playing the role of Kyle Davidson, I need to try to make sure that the return for Kane in a trade is worthy of the elite player he still is and what he meant to the team in his career. There is already going to be criticism and hatred spewed towards me, as Kyle Davidson, because I will be looked at as the guy who traded Patrick Kane. In reality, as Davidson has said, he is not pushing either of Toews or Kane to waive their No-Movement clauses, but waiting for them to come to him. The reception to the Alex DeBrincat trade was not well-received and will likely not be until Kevin Korchinski becomes a Hall of Fame defenseman. While it would be amazing to get five first-round value players/prospects in return, it will not be that reality. So I caution you all to temper expectations in this exercise and if/when the real trade is in motion.

Without any further ado, let’s make a call.

Phone rings to a 780 area code and is picked up

Davidson: “Hi, Ken, it’s Kyle. Davidson. Sorry, I know we’re probably not on a first name only basis yet. Anyway, calling because Patrick came to us today asking for a trade and the Oilers were one of his preferred landing spots. I know scoring and offensive production isn’t your short-comings but it can’t hurt to have a future Hall of Famer in the lineup, right?

I know you don’t have a ton of cap space, but we’re willing to retain some of Patrick’s money to make a deal work for both of us. Ideally we want a few first-round quality pieces in return since we are trying to build this whole thing back up from the bottom.
Let’s talk.”

Holland: “Hi Kyle. We won’t stand on formalities here. Naturally we’re honoured to know that an all-time great like Patrick Kane sees the quality of the team we’re building up here and is interested in joining it. We’d certainly be interested in adding him.

I’m glad you started off by addressing the cap situation. As you can see, we’re playing a delicate game here, and we’re basically in a dollar-in, dollar-out situation.

The other point I’ll make right now is that this is a rental. We likely don’t have the money to re-sign Kane, even assuming he were willing to make a long-term commitment.

Bearing in mind that we’re looking at a rental, what sort of package were you hoping for?”

KD: “We’re looking long-term here in Chicago so ideally I’d like to have your 2023 first-round pick in the discussion and would also be open to discussing a number of the top forwards in your system. Maybe we can work with a Dylan Holloway or Xavier Bourgault?

We’ll retain half of Kane’s money to get him to $5.25M to help out and I’m willing to be flexible with a mid-round pick and/or another roster player to go with him to make sure we are serving us both properly and can make the money work on your end.”

Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

KH: “Let’s leave the exact prospects we’re discussing to the side for a moment and look at the size and shape of the overall package.

I thought the Claude Giroux trade last year is the most recent deal that might resemble a Kane trade. As you’ll recall, Philadelphia landed Owen Tippett, a protected 2024 1st, and a 2023 3rd for essentially Giroux and a 5th-rounder.

We are of course talking a little earlier than the deadline, but that doesn’t change the template much. Go back a few years to the Taylor Hall deal and the cost again was a conditional 1st a year out, a good prospect (Kevin Bahl), a 3rd rounder and some C-tier pieces.

I’d suggest a fair return would involve a Tippett-level piece, a 2024 protected first, and some secondary items. Wouldn’t you agree?”

KD: “I’d agree that those deals a pretty fair comparably, and we do have some time to be patient with our prospects, but I’d like to see if we can agree on a 2023 1st round pick with us throwing in a secondary asset or two in if we can.

I’m on board with working out a ‘Tippett-level’ prospect, but to help us in the immediacy and make money work, we might need another roster player from your NHL lineup.”

KH: “We can certainly talk about a 2023 1st, but the price point will be higher than it would be for a 2024 pick. As for the money, that shouldn’t be too difficult to manage. What I envision is your team retaining 50%, and roping in a third party to also retain 50%. That shouldn’t be a hard sell: between the bonuses and front-loading on that contract, they’d only be on the hook for $725K in real money. With Kane then at a cap hit of $2.63 million, he’s almost an exact match for our Warren Foegele. I thought he’d be a good piece of the return for your side given that he’s a capable young NHL forward under team control for another year. Assuming that’s to your liking, it would then only be a matter of working out the futures your team wants in exchange.”

KD: “I’m all for trying to rope in a third team to make this work. Although Foegele doesn’t move my needle on his own as much as a guy like Kailer Yamamoto does. If we could make that happen, I’d be happy to shift from a 2023 to a 2024 1st round pick and then go into more of the future pieces.”

KH: “We could certainly talk about Yamamoto, but with our cap situation being what it is I like the certainty of having him on a two-year deal. We’d prefer to deal Puljujarvi, given his shorter contract. With where you’re at in the rebuild, I assume the two are largely interchangeable for you?”

KD: “With Puljujarvi being on an expiring deal, it doesn’t give me much certainty. Let’s circle-back to Foegele coming our way. I like the style of player he is and he’ll fit into what we’re trying to build here. So we can agree there. Let’s talk future assets then. Can we make a 2023 1st+ work here? I’m willing to be flexible.”

KH: “Yes, I think we could include a 2023 first with the deal, but it would need to be top-10 protected. I don’t think that’s really going to matter but just in case our goaltending implodes or something I want to be covered. The only other thing I’d add with respect to Puljujarvi is that he’s an RFA coming out of this deal, so you still have team control, but I’m happy to keep him if he’s not enticing to you. So we’re at Foegele + 2023 1st. Where’s your biggest need on the prospect side?”

KD: “Top-10 protected pick with Connor and Leon? No problem. Our biggest need on the prospect side is having dynamic forwards. We have a lot of young guys who can be hard to play against stylistically, but we could use a kid with high-level skill. As I mentioned earlier, Holloway and Bourgault really would be ideal, but I understand we’d have to sweeten our end of the deal to make that a consideration for you. Which, I’m open to if you are.”

Credit: Cataractes de Shawinigan / Olivier Croteau

KH: “I’m extremely reluctant to move either of the players you mentioned, but especially so Holloway who we see playing on our NHL team by midseason. Still, I also realize we’re getting Patrick Kane. Would the top-10 protected 2023 1st, Bourgault and Foegele in exchange for Kane (50% retained) and your 2023 5th-rounder work?”

KD: “I think we have a deal that works for us on our end if it works for you too.”

KH: “In that case, I’d say we’re all set to email the league’s registry office.”

KD: “Absolutely. Glad we could make something work. Good luck Ken!”

Final Trade Deadline Deal:
Patrick Kane and 2023 fifth-round pick to Edmonton
Warren Foegele, Xavier Bourgault, 2023 first-round pick (top-ten protected) to Chicago

Ok…let me have it.

Look, as I said before, temper expectations for what teams are willing to give up for a player on a rental, even for Patrick Kane. The deal the Blackhawks got for Brandon Hagel was an overpayment with two NHL roster players and two future first-round picks. But consider that Hagel had two more years under contract at the time of that deal, which was valuable to Tampa Bay. With this deal made for Kane, the Blackhawks get an NHL roster player in Foegele, a first-round pick, and a prospect that was a first-round selection just two seasons ago. Edmonton is likely not in a position to extend Kane beyond what would be the final 20-or-so games of the 2022-23 season and the subsequent postseason run.

With the addition of Foegele, the Blackhawks would be acquiring a player with another year left on his current contract that is an established NHL player. He’s never been a player to produce big offensive numbers, but fits the mold of the kind of player Davidson is trying to build with in Chicago. Foegele would be turning 27-years-old just after this deal would go down, making him not old, but not young in the NHL standards. Davidson could roll the dice that Foegele gets an opportunity to have a larger role in Chicago and could fit into a regular top-nine spot in the lineup for the 2023-24 season as an established veteran.

The 2023 first-round pick from Edmonton, with the addition of Kane to their lineup late in the season, would likely be in the late-20’s or 30’s range. But with that addition, the Blackhawks would walk into the deeply talented 2023 NHL Draft with three first round picks. At least three. So Davidson would have a ton to work with along the lines of either draft picks or draft-day trade pieces as he continues to bolster the prospect system.

What made me happy at the end of the day in this exercise and deal is that the Blackhawks would be adding Xavier Bourgault to their newly budding group of forward prospects. The 22nd pick in the 2021 NHL Draft by Edmonton, Bourgault has spent time at both center and wing in his QMJHL career with the Shawinigan Cataractes, becoming a more established wing over the 2021-22 season. A season in which he recorded 36 goals and 75 points in just 43 games due to injury, but added another 12 goals and 22 points in 16 QMJHL playoff games on his way to winning the President’s Cup.

From The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler on Bourgault: “Bourgault missed time this season due to injury but when healthy he was a dominant player in the QMJHL helping lead Shawinigan to a championship. He has exceptional puck skills, being able to routinely put pucks through checkers and do so at an NHL pace. He’s a creative passer who can run a power play. Bourgault is also a strong skater and puts pressure on defenses due to his speed and skill. He’s not the biggest or most physical, but I liked his effort this season. I saw more commitment to attacking the middle and playing away from the puck even if that’s not his calling card. Bourgault projects as a top-six forward in the NHL likely on the wing.

Bourgault turns 20 shortly after the beginning of the 2022-23 season (October 22) so it’s likely he begins the year with the AHL Bakersfield Condors. He may not stay there long and could play his way into the Edmonton lineup if he continues on his current developmental path.

Trading Patrick Kane is going to be a difficult task for Kyle Davidson. He may never get to that point, but in the case he did, there’s pretty much going to be no “winning” a deal unless he somehow is able to get three or more first-round quality pieces or players in a trade deal. If he can, all the more to him.

In closing, for as much as we’d all love to believe in the idea that if another NHL team was going to be acquiring Patrick Kane, they’d be selling their farm, it’s just not the reality of what trade markets end up looking like. Especially when dealing with a “rental” and a team that can’t extend the acquiring player after the deal is over. Getting two first-round quality pieces back and a player who will immediately make an impact in the NHL lineup is, in my eyes, a decent return with all circumstances considered.

Many thanks again to The Athletic’s Jonathan Willis for working with me on this exercise.

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