The Patrick Kane sweepstakes are going to be fascinating to watch this season, and one person who should be paying close attention is Pittsburgh Penguins general manager (GM) Ron Hextall. The Chicago Blackhawks are in full rebuild mode and their five-year plan is not appealing to Kane, who is a pending free agent and likely to be traded this season.
While Kane holds a full no-movement clause and an expensive $10.5 million salary for the 2022-23 season, I’d expect to see the Blackhawks retain the full 50% of the cost to ensure they receive a premium package in return.
The fact that Kane holds all the cards about his destination is something that also plays into this as Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson will only be able to acquire so much based on where Kane wants to end up. On the wing of Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin with a shot at another Stanley Cup? That sounds intriguing enough for me, so let’s dive into some of the trade assets Hextall could send back to the windy city.
First-Round Draft Picks
The Blackhawks are in rebuild mode, while the Penguins are in win-now mode until their veteran core retires, so Hextall should consider departing with at least one first-rounder. Recently, it was reported he wanted no part in moving a first-round pick along with Jason Zucker to the Philadelphia Flyers in a salary dump transaction; however, this time around it’s another level with having the chance to land Kane.
The Penguins currently hold their first-round selections moving forward throughout the years and acquiring a world-class player of Kane’s skillset will likely cost at least one. This is something Hextall needs to consider and especially if they are able to get Kane signed to a contract extension. The likes of Crosby, Malkin, and the rest of the core want to win another Cup, and while management needs to keep the future of the franchise in mind, moving the pick should be the play here.
Penguins prospect Pierre-Olivier Joseph is the perfect trade candidate for the Blackhawks as he’s still only 23 years old and has the potential to be an NHL regular.