The New York Rangers are not interested in bringing back free-agent winger Patrick Kane for a continued stint with the team, Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported late Tuesday night. While Chris Johnston of TSN reported last week that the Rangers were one of four Eastern Conference teams interested in the three-time Stanley Cup champion, and Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff said the Rangers had interest in Kane last month, Brooks claims the Rangers “have never been in the mix” for the almost-35-year-old.
Salary cap considerations were always going to be a prohibiting factor in a potential Kane reunion in the Big Apple. Carrying a 20-man roster, plus factoring in the cap hits of the injured Filip Chytil and Adam Fox, the Rangers have less than $650K in projected cap space, which couldn’t even accommodate a league-minimum salary of $775K.
As Brooks points out, there’s also an extremely fair concern around Kane’s health post-hip-resurfacing surgery – a concern the Rangers witnessed first-hand last season after Kane’s post-deadline stint with the team was underwhelming. While whatever issue that was plaguing him has theoretically been fixed, no NHLer has returned to their previous level of effectiveness after undergoing the procedure.
There’s also something to be said about the long-awaited emergence of Alexis Lafrenière. New head coach Peter Laviolette has done what Rangers fans have clamored for since the team selected him first-overall in 2020 – move him to his off-wing in order to give him a role in the team’s top six. Playing on the right side of a line with Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck, Lafrenière ranks third on the team in goals with seven and has 11 points in 14 contests while averaging 16:32 per game.
His emergence has certainly eliminated a potential need (and ice time) for Kane in the Rangers lineup, something GM Chris Drury likely recognizes. Lafrenière is already out-pacing Kane’s stint with the Rangers last season – in 19 games, the longtime Blackhawk had five goals and 12 points while averaging 17:29 per game.
Kane has reportedly begun the process of meeting with teams as he prepares to sign a contract, which will likely be done within a week. As of now, the Florida Panthers, who would have salary cap concerns of their own to sort out, appear the frontrunner for his services, according to a report from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet on Monday.