How Does the Tarasenko Deal Impact the Patrick Kane Market?
In the midst of a ridiculous NBA Trade Deadline flurry, the St. Louis Blues traded one of their best players to the New York Rangers. Vladimir Tarasenko heads to Madison Square Garden in a deal that includes four players and two draft picks.
So what does this mean for a potential Patrick Kane trade scenario?
(At this time, I request that you nod your head and acknowledge that any hypothetical trade scenario involving either Kane or Jonathan Toews is still being discussed in terms of IF either accepts a trade and waives their no-movement clause.)
Let’s first just take a 10,000-foot look at the how Kane and Tarasenko compare on paper right now.
So, in a nutshell, Kane is older, more expensive and more successful. Got it.
And yes, I will ALWAYS take EVERY opportunity to point out a rings comparison when we’re talking to/about NBA-less and NFL-less St. Louis. BTW the Cubs have a World Series championship more recently than the Cardinals…
Here’s the thing you don’t see in a graphic or on the NHL dot com stats page: both of these guys have dealt with injuries over the past couple years and they’re still producing. Tarasenko has been limited to 38 games this year while Kane had appeared in 46, but there was an injury risk for the Rangers (or any other team) with both of these players.
Setting the Market
In making this deal three weeks before the deadline, as was the case when the Islanders acquired Bo Horvat before the All-Star Game, the risk/reward proposition for both the buyer and the seller is that this is absolutely the best you could do. This return represents the best Doug Armstrong was going to get for Tarasenko, and this was the least amount Chris Drury was going to have to give up to add an impact scorer between now at 2 PM CT on March 3.
In making that decision, the Blues set the market for top-tier, over-30, potentially game-changing wings with significant cap hits. Feels fairly specific, right? But there are a handful of names out there that might be moved who would fall into that category, including Kane.
The Islanders traded Horvat, also a pending free agent, for a top-12 protected first-round pick, the Isles’ top prospect (Aatu Raty) and forward Anthony Beauvillier. Beauvillier is a nice player; he’s 25 and has scored between 15-21 goals in five of his seven NHL seasons. There’s NHL roster value in Beauvillier, and Raty looks like a nice piece as well; he was the Isles’ top-rated prospect.
The protection on the pick hedges the gamble by the Islanders that the addition of Horvat would improve them enough that the first-round pick is in the bottom-half of the first round.
The Blues have now traded Tarasenko for Sammy Blais, a defense prospect named Hunter Skinner, a late-first-round pick in 2023 and a fourth-round pick in 2024.
Blais was traded to the Rangers in the deal that brought Pavel Buchnevich to St. Louis last year, so this is a funny “thank, but no thanks” move by the Rangers — who received literally nothing from Blais. As much as some New York media folks tried to sell the “when this guy’s right you’ll enjoy him” line to the fans, that was a bad cap-cutting deal by Chris Drury. Blais has not scored a single goal for the Rangers.
Skinner is a big body defenseman who might never see NHL ice. He wasn’t mentioned by The Athletic when they ranked the top-15 prospects in the Rangers’ system, a pool that ranked 22nd in the NHL (read: not great).
The Blues took back a couple pieces of scrap pile whatever to make the money work so they could get what they wanted: an additional first-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. They now join the Canadiens and Blackhawks (and, likely, the Canucks assuming the Isles don’t land a top-12 pick) as the teams in the league with multiple first-round picks.
Honestly, the return for St. Louis is underwhelming for me just because the two players going to the Blues are non-factors. Credit Blackhawks’ general manager Kyle Davidson for at least getting useful players back in most of his trades thus far.
However, back in November I wrote about the concern that the Blues being bad could impact the Blackhawks’ trade market and that has come to fruition. Not only are they now squarely in the Bad for Bedard sweepstakes, but they’re selling pieces that directly compete with the Blackhawks’ two biggest assets.
So… What About 88?
Again, assuming at some point Kane agrees to waive his no-move clause and this conversation becomes more potentially realistic…
The good news is the Tarasenko deals tells me starting the conversation with a first-round pick is viable if the Blackhawks are willing to eat half of Kane’s cap hit (which we’re all assuming they will).
The next piece of good news is one of the competitive pieces to Kane on the market is off the table. Other teams looking for help in the scoring department — Dallas, Vegas, Edmonton, Carolina, Toronto, Seattle, possibly the New Jersey Devils now that Jack Hughes is injured — have one fewer options available. And the piece that’s off the board was a really strong back-up plan if you failed to land Kane or San Jose’s Timo Meier.
Meier, Kane and now Brock Boeser are the top wings likely to be on the market. Boeser has term left on his contract (two more years at $6.65 million cap hit) while Meier and Kane need a new deal. For some, Kane might be a pure rental because of his age and the lingering health issue that’s been brought up about a thousand times in the last ten days.
The most significant bad news is the New York Rangers were the only team on that list that had multiple first-round picks, so making the transaction work could have been easier considering they had a surplus (even in a deep, good draft).
Both the Rangers and Stars have legit Stanley Cup aspirations, so let’s just bank on that pick being somewhere after 25 overall.
The other news that I’m frankly not thrilled about is the lackluster value of players involved in the Tarasenko deal. Davidson has done a good job of targeting players with some value (Jason Dickinson, Taylor Raddysh) whereas the Blues really only got the first and fourth-round picks in this deal. And I the fourth-rounder (in 2024 I might add) was thrown in because of the Blues included a defenseman in the deal (also a rental).
So, like Brian McKnight about 23 years ago, we’re back at one. We’re still waiting for Kane to make a decision. But at least now we can start to see what the market might hold for his services.