Rangers acquire star winger Patrick Kane from Blackhawks

Patrick Kane
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The New York Rangers acquired Patrick Kane in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks, reuniting the star winger with former teammate Artemi Panarin and stamping themselves as a Stanley Cup contender in the loaded Eastern Conference.

New York was believed to be out of the running for Kane after it acquired Vladimir Tarasenko from St. Louis on Feb. 9. The 34-year-old Kane also had been noncommittal when asked about leaving his only NHL home.

But Kane loved playing with Panarin for two seasons at the beginning of the Russian winger’s NHL career, and the three-time Stanley Cup champion was in control of his situation because of a no-movement clause in his contract.

“This has been an emotional time for me and my family, but I feel this decision puts me in the best spot to immediately win another Stanley Cup,” Kane said in a release. “This isn’t about me leaving the Blackhawks, but this is an opportunity for me – the Blackhawks did everything they could to put me in a great position and I will forever be grateful.”

After days of rumors and salary cap maneuvering, the Rangers sent a conditional 2023 second-round draft pick, a 2025 fourth-rounder and minor league defenseman Andy Welinski to the rebuilding Blackhawks for Kane and minor league defenseman Cooper Zech. Chicago also acquired Finnish defenseman Vili Saarijarvi from Arizona as part of the trade.

The Coyotes received a 2025 third-rounder from the Rangers to retain 25% of Kane’s salary, with the Blackhawks paying 50%.

The conditional second-rounder that Chicago got from New York becomes a 2024 first-rounder if the Rangers reach this year’s East final. If it remains a second-round selection, the Blackhawks will have eight picks in the first three rounds of the upcoming draft.

“A lot of emotions, to be honest. It doesn’t seem real right now, that we traded Patrick Kane,” Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson said. “But really excited for him to get a chance to play for the Rangers, play at Madison Square Garden with a really good team, and we’re looking forward to watching him compete with New York.”

Kane could make his Rangers debut Wednesday night at Philadelphia or Thursday night at home against Ottawa. He scored the biggest goal of his NHL career in Philly, an overtime winner in Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, ending Chicago’s 49-year title drought.

He was in the middle of his best stretch of the season when he left the Blackhawks during their road trip amid the trade talks. He has seven goals and three assists during a four-game point streak.

“I think Patrick recognized it was a good fit for him and it’s a good fit for us,” New York GM Chris Drury said. “We’re certainly excited that he wanted to be traded and that it was to the New York Rangers.”

New York got Tarasenko and depth defenseman Niko Mikkola in the trade with St. Louis. The Rangers made the deal at the time thinking the acquisition cost for Tarasenko would be less than what it would take to get Timo Meier, and they were wary about waiting for Kane to make a decision on his future.

But Drury only had to trade one first-round pick, a fourth-rounder and two players to St. Louis. After acquiring one first-rounder from Dallas last summer for young defenseman Nils Lundkvist, the Rangers had enough draft capital to obtain Kane from Chicago.

Kane was selected by the Blackhawks with the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft. He is in the last season of an $84 million, eight-year contract extension that was finalized in July 2014.

Kane helped Chicago put together the best stretch in franchise history, winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015. The Blackhawks also made it to the Western Conference final in 2014, losing to the Los Angeles Kings in an epic seven-game series.

But the franchise has fallen on hard times of late. It is among the worst teams in the NHL this year, in the mix for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and a chance to take Connor Bedard.

“The contributions Patrick Kane has made to the Blackhawks organization and city of Chicago will never be forgotten,” Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz said. “While today marks the end of an era for the team, he will forever be a part of the Blackhawks family.”

Kane has long been one of the league’s most gifted wingers. He has 16 goals and 29 assists in 54 games, and his numbers have been hurt by the lack of talent around him.

Kane also has a long history of playoff success. Beyond the series-clinching goal in 2010 against the Flyers, he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2013.

He has 14 seasons with at least 21 goals and 13 years with at least 40 assists. He won the 2016 Hart Trophy as NHL MVP after he had a career-high 46 goals and 60 assists in 82 games.

Just last season, when Chicago had Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome, Kane scored 26 times and matched a career best with 66 assists in 78 games.

Blackhawks acquire Nikita Zaitsev, picks from Senators

zaitsev trade
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DALLAS — The Chicago Blackhawks acquired Nikita Zaitsev and draft picks from the Ottawa Senators for future considerations in what amounts to a salary dump ahead of the NHL trade deadline.

The teams announced the deal prior to the Blackhawks’ game at the Dallas Stars. Chicago got a 2023 second-round pick and 2026 fourth in exchange for taking on the remainder of Zaitsev’s contract.

“We’re pleased to afford Nikita a fresh start,” Senators general manager Pierre Dorion said in a statement. “He’s a pro’s pro who showcased himself to be a caring teammate and quiet leader throughout his Sens tenure. We’re thankful for his time in Ottawa and wish he and his family the best in his next chapter.”

Zaitsev, 31, is signed through next season at a salary cap hit of $4.5 million. Last-place Chicago now has the ability to flip the Russian defenseman to another team before the March 3 trade deadline or at any time over the next year.

For now, the Blackhawks are keeping him.

“Nikita gives us added depth on the right side, and we anticipate him joining us soon,” Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson said. “We are getting an NHL caliber defenseman and acquiring very valuable draft capital in this upcoming draft and beyond.”

The trade came hours after Vegas and Arizona also made a cap-related deal, with the Golden Knights sending the contract of retired 37-year-old Shea Weber and a draft pick to the Coyotes for defenseman Dysin Mayo.

Zaitsev has five goals in 28 games this season. He has 110 points in 444 NHL regular-season and playoff games with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Senators.

Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews dealing with long COVID-19 symptoms

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CHICAGO — Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews announced that he is dealing with symptoms of long COVID-19 and chronic immune response syndrome.

Toews hasn’t played since Jan. 28. The Blackhawks placed the 34-year-old center on injured reserve on Wednesday with what they said was a non-COVID-19-related illness.

“It has been really challenging to play through these symptoms,” Toews said in a statement released by the team. “In the last few weeks, it has reached the point where I had no choice but to step back and concentrate on getting healthy. I am thankful for the patience and support of my teammates, the coaching staff, and the entire Blackhawks organization.”

Toews missed the 2020-21 season with what he described as chronic immune response syndrome.

Toews has spent his entire career with Chicago, winning three Stanley Cup titles. But he is eligible for free agency after this season.

“We’re going to work with him and support him in whatever he needs to make sure he’s feeling good and feeling strong and in a spot where he can come back on the ice,” general manager Kyle Davidson said. “We’ll take it day by day, but the hope is that he can still play some games here down the stretch.”

Asked about moving Toews by the March 3 trade deadline, Davidson said he isn’t thinking about that.

“We’re trying to help him get back to full strength and that’s totally secondary,” he said.

Toews had 12 goals and 25 assists in 71 games when he returned to action last year, and he had looked stronger this season. He has 14 goals and 14 assists in 46 games for the last-place Blackhawks.

“We feel for him and just supporting him right now,” coach Luke Richardson said. “He was back this week, first steps of getting back and working out and skating, and unfortunately he wasn’t getting the results that he wanted.”

Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane unsure about possible trade

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CHICAGO — While Patrick Kane is deciding if he is OK with leaving the Chicago Blackhawks – his only NHL home – the veteran forward is keeping track of the rest of the league.

So, yeah, he definitely noticed the New York Rangers trading for fellow winger Vladimir Tarasenko.

“If things were going to happen … that was a team that I was definitely looking at,” Kane said. “Yeah, it seems like they kind of filled their void and went ahead and made a deal.”

The Rangers may be out of the picture, shelving a potential reunion for Kane and former teammate Artemi Panarin, but there are plenty of possibilities as Kane contemplates his future ahead of the NHL trade deadline on March 3.

Kane and Chicago captain Jonathan Toews are in the final year of their contracts. The Blackhawks (16-29-5) are one of the league’s worst teams, but Kane and Toews have no-movement clauses in the extensions they finalized in July 2014.

They could decide to finish the season with their only NHL team. Or the three-time Stanley Cup winners could provide general manager Kyle Davidson the name of a team or teams they would be willing to join.

As the deadline approaches, their decisions are being closely watched.

“Just trying to figure things out,” Kane said before a 4-3 overtime win against Arizona. “Probably make a decision in the next couple weeks here and just go with that.”

There has been no word of late from Toews, who has been out all week with an illness. He was scratched for the victory over the Coyotes, and he has been ruled out for the game in his hometown of Winnipeg.

“We’re just letting him get his feet wet and get some strength back,” first-year coach Luke Richardson said. “He had, I guess, a really solid bike ride yesterday and felt good after, so that’s a good first step.”

Depending on what Kane and Toews decide – along with interest in forwards Max Domi and Sam Lafferty – the lowly Blackhawks could look much different very soon.

Richardson sounds prepared for whatever happens.

“I knew the plan coming in, and we’re not sure where it’s going to go,” he said. “It just depends on what other teams call and want to do, more so than what we really want to do here.”

Kane has nine goals and 26 assists in 47 games. His numbers are down this year, but he has been hurt by the lack of talent around him.

Just last season, when Chicago had Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome, Kane scored 26 times and matched a career best with 66 assists in 78 games.

The 34-year-old Kane also brushed off reports of a hip issue drawing concerns from contenders.

“I feel better than I did last year, and I had a pretty good season last year,” he said. “So it’s just one of those things. I think maybe the story leaks out and it piles up a little bit.”

The Blackhawks are rebuilding under Davidson, and Kane and Toews could bring in more assets for the team’s future plans. But the return on any trade could hinge on how many teams are in the mix for each player’s services.

That is solely up to Kane and Toews – something Kane said he is conscious of as he thinks about his next step.

“You want to do right by the franchise, and the organization here has been amazing to me and given me so much,” he said. “So definitely want what’s best for both sides.”

Blackhawks recall Lukas Reichel, Brett Seney from minors

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CHICAGO — The banged-up Chicago Blackhawks recalled forwards Lukas Reichel and Brett Seney from the minors.

Chicago also placed forwards MacKenzie Entwistle and Jujhar Khaira on injured reserve, retroactive to Dec. 27. Entwistle has a right wrist injury, and Khaira is dealing with a lower back issue.

The 20-year-old Reichel is one of the organization’s top prospects. He was selected by Chicago with the No. 17 pick in the 2020 draft.

Reichel has 14 goals and 22 assists in 32 games this season with Rockford of the AHL. He has no goals and an assist in 12 career NHL games, including one appearance with Chicago last month.

The 26-year-old Seney has five goals and eight assists in 55 career NHL games with New Jersey and Toronto.

The Blackhawks dressed seven defensemen in a 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay after forward Tyler Johnson was sidelined by an illness. Then star forward Patrick Kane departed with a lower-body injury.

Chicago has dropped five in a row heading into a game against Arizona. It is just 2-20-1 in its last 23 overall.