Patrick Kane must be the target for Rangers if they are ready for the next step


Patrick Kane must be the target for Rangers if they are ready for the next step

Rangers selected six players from rounds two through six to complete Friday’s entry draft. Let me ask you this: would you consider it good news or bad news if either of you were on the next Blueshirts team to win the Stanley Cup?

General manager Chris Drury and his staff left Montreal in essentially the same position they arrived in on Monday, except to attend to Alexandar Georgiev’s situation. The Rangers still badly need a second-line center, either through a trade or a free-agent signing.

But maybe that’s not exactly how to frame it.

Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that Drury’s priority is creating a top-six that can score in the later rounds of the playoffs as his team tries to make the next — and biggest — step of all to get away from the contender to become a champion.

Getting an impressive 2C seems like the most expedient way to achieve that goal, but what if that meant getting a strong right wing to play opposite Artemi Panarin instead?

The question I ask is this: If Drury thinks this team is close enough to winning a trophy in 2023 to pay a lot for a year-long lease, then it would make more sense for Patrick Kane to go that far instead of JT as possible to go miller?

I started talking about Kane last year and probably won’t stop until the right winger, who won three trophies with Chicago and is quite possibly Panarin’s favorite linemate of all time, either goes somewhere else or pledges his undying loyalty to the Blackhawks quickly on the way to become the NHL version of the Oakland Athletics.

Patrick Kane
Patrick Kane should be Rangers’ top priority, writes The Post’s Larry Brooks.
NHLI via Getty Images

Kane, who turns 34 in November, has a full no-move clause on a contract that has one year left while carrying a $10.5 million cap hit. Kane is thus in control of his next target. He could steer himself to Broadway. If the Blackhawks took 50 percent of the contract, Kane would wear the same $5.25 million cap as Miller, who also has a year to complete his contract.

Who would you rather have in your lineup for Game 1 of 2023, Kane or Miller? Who would you rather have in the lineup for the 82-game marathon, Kane or Miller? There is of course an option C, which would be: “None of the above”.

The tally hasn’t changed since going 2-1 the wrong way in Game 6 of the Conference Finals in Tampa on June 11. The blueshirts cannot afford to commit themselves to an experienced blue chip center for the long term. This puts them out of the running for upcoming free agent Nazem Kadri. This eliminates the option of winning Miller and then extending it. Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele has two years left on his contract with an annual cap hit of $6.125 million that would max the envelope.

Chris Drury
Chris Drury
Getty Images

Rangers had the lowest 5-on-5 odds of any playoff team to win at least one round, at 60-00. They finished 21st overall in that category during the season. That was of course with Ryan Strome, who is on his way to the free agent market. And just in the final quarter of the season, top sixers Andrew Copp and Frank Vatrano were also on their way out.

Rangers go on again for 29 years as if Sam Rosen’s “This one will last a lifetime” was a phrase rather than just a sentence, if you get my meaning. All sorts of intertwined schedules are at work here, involving veterans with no-move clauses and kids on secondary contracts, but a Stanley Cup in 81 years creates urgency.

You know what else does or should? The fact that in three years Igor Shesterkin can become an unrestricted free agent.

Tony Amonte recorded 717 points (332 goals, 385 assists) after being traded in 1994, while Stephane Matteau and Brian Noonan combined for 69 points (35-34) after their blueshirt acquisitions. Doug Weight scored 963 points (255-708) after leaving New York on deadline 1993, while Esa Tikkanen scored 61 points (24-37) on his first stint on Broadway. Does anyone care?

When Drury thinks Rangers are within rental range of a Cup, he walls off Shesterkin, Adam Fox, Alexis Lafreniere, K’Andre Miller, Braden Schneider, Ryan Lindgren, Brennan Othmann and Will Cuylle, and adds no-move guys Panarin and Chris added Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Jacob Trouba to the list.

And then he acts.

First question: Are Rangers close enough to rent a blue-chip property?

And the second: If so, shouldn’t Patrick Kane be Target 1?

You May Also Like