The stars had to align for this to happen.
Patrick Kane does not become a New York Ranger for a few draft picks and a prospect in a three-team trade for financial purposes if things didn’t fall into place the way that they did.
From the Feb. 8, 2018 rebuilding notice signed by Rangers management, the club’s conference final run last season and the shackling no-move clause Chicago’s former general manager Stan Bowman agreed to on Kane’s eight-year, $84 million deal on July 9, 2014, all played an integral part in what will transpire at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.
That’s when the longtime Blackhawks star will take the ice and become the Rangers Grandeur.
Already a team composed of some of the flashiest players in all of the NHL, the Rangers will now dress a lineup that inspires shock and awe from top to bottom. An alignment that seemingly could only be designed in franchise mode of EA Sports’ NHL video game. Kane doesn’t just fill a hole in the top-six, he is said to be capable of enhancing it all.
“There probably wasn’t another situation where we would have pushed the limits,” Rangers president and general manager Chris Drury said on a conference call with reporters after the deal became official Tuesday night. “But to get a Patrick Kane, you don’t get an opportunity like that very often.”
There is no universe in which the Rangers acquire Kane for a conditional second-rounder in this year’s draft — which will only turn into a first in 2024 or 2025 if the Rangers win two playoff rounds — a 2025 fourth-round pick, Andy Welinski and a conditional third-round selection in 2025 (to Arizona), if the three-time Stanley Cup champion didn’t push for it as adamantly as he did.
At the same time, the Rangers would not have dealt with the weeks-long hassle of shuffling assets and counting pennies to accommodate Kane if the price wasn’t what it was. Braden Schneider wouldn’t have sounded so genuinely willing to take a pay cut of over $8,000 (per Puck Pedia), which came as a result of a minor league paper transaction to accumulate more cap space, if it weren’t for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
That is what the Rangers and Kane have in front of them. That is why Kane has come to New York.
“Obviously, he had to waive his no-move [clause] to come here, and we’re fortunate that he did want to come here,” Drury said. “I think he recognized it’s a good fit for him. It’s certainly a good fit for us, so we’re thrilled he decided that: A) He did want to be traded; and B) that it was to the New York Rangers.”
Looking around the Eastern Conference, which has become a land mine in recent weeks, the Rangers are just as terrifying as the rest. The Rangers, however, have Artemi Panarin — a familiar face for Kane from the Russian wing’s two seasons in Chicago. A chance to rekindle the type of on-ice chemistry that can only be compared to hockey’s Harlem Globetrotters is just another example of a higher power that was in the works.
The two dynamic forwards will flank Vincent Trocheck, while Vladimir Tarasenko laces up next to the Rangers’ longest tenured skaters, Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad.
“Any fool can put those lines together,” head coach Gerard Gallant quipped with a laugh.
There’s a good chance Kane could step right onto the first power-play unit. He’ll be on one of the two at the very least. But there was Tarasenko on Wednesday night reminding us all that he was the first big-name arrival of the season. Let’s not forget the Rangers brought in two proven playoff players in the span of 20 days.
After teeing up Zibanejad for the Rangers’ first-period power-play goal, Tarasenko sent the long shot that Kreider tipped in for the game-tying goal in the third period. He later scored the overtime winner in a 3-2 victory over the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.
If the arrival of Kane jump-started Tarasenko, that only benefits the Rangers.
So the Rangers let Kane take his time making his way from the Windy City to the Big Apple. Did you really think they would unveil this team to the masses in Philadelphia? Kane is the kind of player you savor. With all that had to happen to get to this point, paying attention to the details is the only way to do it justice.
Kane will make his Rangers debut under the pinwheel ceiling of the Garden, where he’s scored five goals and dished six assists in 10 career games as an opponent.
For 16 years, he donned the red, white and black. Thursday, Kane will suit up in red, white and Rangers blue.
The biggest stars shine on Broadway.
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