Chris Johnston reported on TSN Insider Trading today that unrestricted free agent forward Patrick Kane and his agent Pat Brisson have formally opened discussions with teams about the 34-year-old’s next contract. It is believed that Kane is talking to at least four Eastern Conference teams and possibly even a fifth.
Kane opted to have offseason hip surgery after dealing with a nagging injury for most of last season. He had the procedure on June 1st and was expected to have a 4–6-month recovery period. He appears to be on track to return to the NHL within that timeline. The injury likely hindered the three-time Stanley Cup Champion’s play last season as Kane had a down year offensively, registering just 21 goals and 36 assists in 73 games split between the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers.
Johnston believes that the clubs Kane is talking to are the Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers, and the Detroit Red Wings. Each of those teams makes sense, given Kane’s circumstances. Kane played with the Rangers last year and has a certain level of familiarity with the group. He is from Buffalo, and the Sabres are a team that is on the rise and could certainly use another scoring forward. Florida went to the Stanley Cup finals last year and often seems to be a popular destination for free agents. And finally, the Red Wings acquired one of Kane’s favorite players to play with, Alex DeBrincat.
Kane’s signing could certainly shift the balance in a very strong Eastern Conference if he can return to being even a fraction of the player he once was. He is just two years removed from a 92-point season and was a point-a-game player in 12 of 13 seasons before last year.
The biggest concern with Kane is that the hip resurfacing surgery he had is a tough one to recover from. Nicklas Backstrom has struggled to return from the procedure after having it last year, and Ryan Kesler was never able to return after having it in 2019. Mike Sillinger and Ed Jovanovski are two other players who had the same surgery, and neither was able to return for a significant period, although Jovanovski was able to play 37 games during the 2013-14 season. The surgery is typically for people in their 50s and is not commonly done for people under the age of 40. It is not without success in athletes, though, as tennis star Andy Murray has had the procedure and had a successful return to the court.