Red Wings Shouldn’t Sign Patrick Kane

The Hockey Writers

Let’s talk about Patrick Kane and the Detroit Red Wings.

On Sunday, John Dietz of the Daily Herald suggested that signing with the Red Wings could be of interest to Kane, who is currently recovering from hip surgery.

I was expecting to see many things over Labor Day Weekend – friends, family, sunshine, and the water to name a few. A rumor about Kane and the Red Wings was not one of them.

Related: Red Wings Lineup Projection for 2023-24

So let’s talk about it. Does a player like Kane make sense for the Red Wings?

What Patrick Kane Brings To the Table

Starting with the obvious, Kane will be 35 in November and is coming off of hip surgery. According to the winger, he’s feeling great and has already been on the ice 20 times now.

Patrick Kane has been linked to the Detroit Red Wings
Patrick Kane skating with the Chicago Blackhawks. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Kane is targeting a November or December return to NHL action, which lines up with Nicklas Backstrom’s recovery timeline when he had the same hip resurfacing surgery last summer.

While his recovery is going well, it’s unclear what kind of player Kane is at this point in his career. This isn’t prime Patrick Kane we’re talking about here. This is an almost-35-year-old Kane coming off of major surgery.

His 2022-23 season wasn’t great. Sure, the nagging injury that prompted the surgery played a role. But still, Kane’s production and overall game fell off significantly. 

“Without the puck, Kane was completely invisible,” Liberty Blue Podcast’s Andrew Chelney told The Hockey Writers of the playmaker’s time with the New York Rangers. “Especially in the playoffs, if Kane didn’t have the puck, he was essentially doing cardio – that’s how unnoticeable he was.

“He’s too slow at this stage of his career to create his own space, but is still a player that needs the puck on his stick at all times. He’s all offense and no defense, yet he’s also none of the offense unless he’s the one driving the play.”

To sum it all up, Kane should have a moderate impact at even-strength this season, though only in the offensive zone. In addition, he’s still a power play threat. But we won’t see him in action until November at the earliest.

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Red Wings Should Pass On Kane

It’s easy to be fixated on Kane’s 2021-22 season, when he was presumably healthy and recorded 92 points playing on a line with Alex DeBrincat (who happened to score 41 goals that year).

There’s no denying the value in that level of production. The concern, though, is about what has happened since then.

Patrick Kane New York Rangers
Patrick Kane’s time with the New York Rangers was forgettable. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

First, it’s not a given that Kane’s play returns to its 2021-22 form. In fact, it’s far from likely. If you look at any NHL aging curve, players moving into their mid-30s tend to fall off quickly. 

In addition, there’s Backstrom—another elite playmaker, though better defensively—who had the same surgery and saw his production drop significantly upon returning to the lineup. He just wasn’t the same player, and it’s unfair to think that Kane will somehow avoid that fate.

From the Red Wings’ perspective, Kane doesn’t fit with what they’re trying to build. General manager Steve Yzerman moved out offense-only players like Andreas Athanasiou and Jakub Vrana to bring in more well-rounded forwards. 

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Sure, Robby Fabbri and David Perron remain as offense-first forwards, but also provide value elsewhere – Fabbri plays with an edge, while Perron can create space away from the puck. Do the Red Wings really need another offense-first player on top of these two?

Finally, Kane doesn’t fit in with Detroit’s culture. A core tenet of the “Yzerplan” is to surround young talent with quality leaders that can help them mature into effective, two-way NHLers. A player who gives far less than 100 percent on defense and forced a trade to the Rangers (which resulted in a meager return for the rebuilding Blackhawks) doesn’t fit that mold.

Overall, Kane isn’t worth the risk. Between his age, the surgery, his play away from the puck, and character/cultural fit concerns, there’s significant risk that he will not be able to provide positive value for the Red Wings. And because of that, the organization should avoid signing him.

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