Since being drafted back in 2008, Patrick Kane has been one of the main faces of the Blackhawks organization and one of the most identifiable players in the league. Although he was undoubtedly the player Chicago should have chosen at that time, his years of inconsistent point production coupled with his immaturity on and off the ice have proven that he is not worth his lavish contract. Of course, Kane has reached the pinnacle of the sport’s success, winning the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s most valuable player and the Art Ross scoring champion trophy during the 2015-16 season while also accumulating 3 Stanley Cup titles over the course of his career. Still, however, Kane’s departure is essential for the franchise’s continued success over the course of the next decade.
Kane’s most recent contract pays him well over $13 million, including his yearly signing bonuses. He is paid more than superstar players like Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Henrik Lundqvist. Although the size and length of Kane’s contract would suggest the he is the most elite offensive player in the league, the statistics suggest otherwise. For example, if you compare Kane’s NHL shot totals since he entered the league in 2008 to players that are paid less than him (like Alex Ovechkin), Kane’s totals are nowhere close. Since 2008, Kane has taken 1,400 fewer shots than Ovechkin and consequently has scored 181 fewer goals. In fact, his shot totals do not even rank among the top 10 players in the league and his goal and assist totals don’t rank in the top 5. As the most elite offensive player in the league, shouldn’t his totals be number 1 in these categories? Furthermore, his lack of shot production would suggest–mathematically–that his shooting percentage would be higher; but contrary to belief, Kane still does not have a shooting percentage that ranks in the top 100 players of the league. In a league as competitive as the NHL, where guys are willing to break bones, loose teeth and even lose part of their ear on a nightly basis to block shots (like Washington Captials forward Daniel Winnik), there is no excuse for not shooting when given the opportunity. Even if Kane were to shoot more and not score, he would still be making a difference by generating offense and potentially creating chances for his teammates.
Additionally, Kane lacks the leadership qualities expected of players who have been around the league for as long as he has. Many players taken after Kane in the 2007 NHL entry draft, including Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers, Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens and Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars are now captains of their respective teams and are still paid far less. Teams such as the Edmonton Oilers appointed their current captain, 19-year-old Connor McDavid, because they feel he possesses the skill and maturity that is needed in a captain. So is Kane really not able to act as mature as a 19 year old? While it may be understandable that Kane is not a captain, it seems troubling that he is not even an alternate captain like Evgeni Malkin or Tyler Seguin, but at the same time, is paid more than both of them. Out of the 15 highest paid players in the league, Kane is the only player who does not hold a leadership position even though he is tied for having the second highest salary.
After the season ends, his consistent off-ice shenanigans have proven that he still does not possess the maturity of someone who has been in the league with his tenure. So much so that this summer he was grounded by the Blackhawks organization and told that he was not allowed to leave the state following sexual assault charges that cast a bad light on the league, the Blackhawks organization, and especially him.
Chicago has already received several offers from teams interested in acquiring Kane. The most interested teams being Buffalo (Kane’s home town), Boston and Montreal. All deals consisted of a top prospect, a solid current player, and a draft pick — sweet deals, for sure. By trading him now, while he’s still in his prime, the Blackhawks would reap the greatest value for him that they will ever see. In all likelihood, he will not be able to continue to play at his current level for more than 3 or 4 more seasons. Chicago should see the writing on the wall and trade for a player such as Tyler Seguin, who may seem like a downgrade from Kane, but is significantly younger and already has one Stanley Cup ring from his time in Boston. Other potential trade targets for the Blackhawks should be either Johnny “hockey” Gaudreau from Calgary or Fillip Forsberg from Nashville. Both players are stars on the rise and are set to make considerably less for the same amount of time. Although they may be an investment in the future, the Blackhawks would benefit significantly from unloading half of Kane’s contract and getting a player who will be able to grow and benefit the franchise far into the future.
Unfortunately, I fear I am a lone voice on this topic and a trade is unlikely to happen. Given the immense popularity of Patrick Kane as a figurehead–complete with his drunken parade speeches, flashy stick-handling–I understand and am aware that my opinion is in the minority. Given this, Blackhawks fans will continue to enjoy the journey while it lasts, but should prepare franchise’s ultimate demise within the next decade. As much as it pains me to say it, it looks like the end of the Blackhawks dynasty may be nearing.