NHL Rumors: Is Patrick Kane destined for the Detroit Red Wings

Today’s NHL Rumors examines Steve Yzerman’s grand plan regarding the Detroit Red Wings and whether Patrick Kane is part of it.

The Detroit Red Wings made one of the summer’s biggest splashes when they acquired two-time 40-goal scorer Alex DeBrincat from the Ottawa Senators, extending him for four seasons on a $31.5 million contract. Interestingly, general manager Steve Yzerman was busy recruiting Shayne Gostibehere, J.T. Compher, Klim Kostin, and Justin Holl to the Motor City before acquiring the star winger. 

After almost three decades as a top team in the league, the Red Wings have had a more humbling experience over the last seven years, drafting and developing players, previously qualifying for the playoffs in 2015-16. Now that all their Hall of Fame caliber players are retired, the franchise went from contenders straight into a rebuild, which included a 17-win season in 2019-20.

Thankfully, former team captain and three-time Stanley Cup champion Yzerman is back, leading the club again. After helping resurrect the Tampa Bay Lightning into a contender, he’s returned home to restore the Red Wings to their former glory. 

NHL Rumors: Yzerman is leading another youth movement

NHL: NHL Draft
Jul 7, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CANADA; Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman announces Marco Kasper (not pictured) as the number eight overall pick to the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Long ago, Yzerman was a rookie, collecting 100-point seasons, leading a new generation of players in the famous winged jersey. As general manager, he’s constructed a roster with just five players over 30, with most of their young stars in the early to mid-20s, including DeBrincat, who is 26. 

Meanwhile, their captain, Dylan Larkin, is about to enter his ninth season with the team, and he is just 26, the same as 20-goal scorer Daniel Sprong. Furthermore, former Calder Trophy winner Moritz Seider is just 22, along with Jonatan Berggren (28 points) and Dylan Larkin (45 points). 

In reality, Yzerman got lucky with the team drafting players who have found immediate success, only worrying about acquiring skaters to complement homegrown talent. Ultimately, his management of the team’s finances is why the Red Wings are just one of five teams with over $5 million in cap space, leaving plenty of room to add or subtract if necessary.

However, saving money today doesn’t mean they will have enough of it to go around in the future. For example, Seider and Raymond are at the end of their entry-level contracts and will command top dollars on a bridge deal or a lengthy extension. Additionally, the team will need a backup goalie since James Reimer is on a one-year deal, like Gostisbehere.

After the 2023-24 campaign, the team will have 11 players eligible for free agency, meaning it’s a pivotal year for the franchise. Although a lot is happening regarding personnel, things could get very interesting with a big-name free agent recently expressing a desire to join the team. 

Red Wings emerge as front-runners for Patrick Kane

Now that we have discussed how the current Red Wings lineup has come together and how they make money work in a salary-cap world, it is interesting to point out that they recently emerged as a front-runner to land Patrick Kane. Recently, comments surfaced that the three-time Stanley Cup champion wishes to play with DeBrincat again since the two had undeniable chemistry together with the Chicago Blackhawks for five seasons. 

In case anyone needed a reminder, Kane remains a free agent after undergoing hip surgery this offseason but is already on the ice and working his way back. Ultimately, his most recent team, the New York Rangers, remain the odds-on favorite to re-sign him, but after hearing about his link to the Red Wings, there’s no telling where he will eventually sign. 

Realistically, the Red Wings have the money to sign him at a pro-rated salary or agree to spread his compensation throughout a multi-year agreement. Even though he was making over $10 million a season on his last contract, he could try and find a suitor willing to pay him that figure again or go to a team to complement their young core.

Whether Kane is looking to cash in (again) or chase another Stanley Cup, both are possible in Detroit, just not this year or next. Considering the Red Wings are still an up-and-coming team, he must be patient with Yzerman’s plan. Either that, or he can return home and sign with the Buffalo Sabres and be a part of their rebuild or find a spot with a legit Stanley Cup contender, like the Rangers.

No matter what happens with Kane, who just came onto the Red Wings radar, the team will continue progressing with or without him. Ultimately, a brilliant hockey mind like Yzerman will not let the franchise he led on the ice for almost two decades continue to fail and acquire the necessary players to contend and win again.