I think that we're all in agreement that something has to be done about the current roster between now and next season. Unfortunately, I don't see any of the big names in free agency (Parise, Suter, Parenteau, Semin, Carle) choosing the Stars. It's not impossible, but I'm not holding my breath. That leaves the trade market as the only real option for improvement. Jordan Staal has been mentioned as a potential candidate, but I'm not sure if we have the pieces to acquire him at this point in time. With all of the teams supposedly interested in him and the lack of talent in free agency, Pittsburgh could get a really nice deal if they decided to move him. While I'd like to see him in a Stars jersey, I don't think it would be worth the cost in picks and prospects. A more reasonable option, in my opinion, would be trying to acquire Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks.
After being drafted 1st overall in 2007, Kane has been one of the best forwards in the Western Conference. He scored the cup winning goal in 2010 and has been close to a point-per-game player throughout his short career (369 points in 399 career games). He currently has three years left on a deal that pays him 6.3 million a season and his NMC doesn't kick in until 2014. He's a natural right wing, but this past season, played center as for long stretches, similar to how Jamie Benn was used, with mixed results. Despite having one of the worst seasons in his career, he still would have been the second top scorer on this year's Stars. He might not be the best player defensively, but he would instantly become our most offensively talented forward.
But if Patrick Kane is so great, why would the Blackhawks be willing to trade him? For starters, there's the stats.
This season he had a career low in assists and points while he only scored twice more than in his rookie season. And he played all 82 games as well. Chicago GM Stan Bowman might be worried that Kane might have peaked and would be willing to consider a trade. I'm not sure if the stats are a sign of a problem with Kane himself though. He had the lowest shooting percentage of his career, which likely led to the low goal totals. In addition, Chicago's powerplay dropped from 4th best in the league in 2011 (23.1 %) to the 5th worst (15.2%). Some of this was likely on Kane, but the lack of production from the entire team would explain the incredibly low powerplay assists.
Stats aren't the only reason for why Kane might be available. He's been in the spotlight for all of the wrong reasons several times throughout his NHL career, from punching a cab driver in 2009 to the weekend he spent wasted back in March. It's possible that the Blackhawks organization sees him as a cancer or question his work ethic enough to try to move him somewhere else. If that's the case, then the Stars have a recent history with reforming so-called problem players.
The final reason that I think that Kane can could be acquired cheaply is that he was one of the reasons Joel Quenneville was almost fired. There was apparently a severe disconnect between the front office and the coaching staff this past season based on this article by Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago.
At one point, Director of Player Development Barry Smith was asked to help with some coaching -- but not by Quenneville, according to multiple sources. That directive came from above. And at the team’s year-end press conference last week, Quenneville talked highly of Marcus Kruger’s job as the team’s second line center while Bowman said that Kane might be the best candidate for that position moving forward.
Patrick Kane is not a natural center and won only 42.2% of the 569 draws he took this year. Adjusting to this new position may have also caused the drop in production seen earlier. If his presence is causing a rift in the organization, it would be wise for the Blackhawks to look at other options.
What would it take to acquire him though? I'm not quite sure. A first round pick is a given, this year's or next year's, but anything after that depends on if the Hawks want veterans or prospects. I'd guess that if we sent Michael Ryder and one of the Smiths or Nemeth over, that might be enough. But I'm not familiar enough with what the Hawks want. But Patrick Kane provides the offense that the Stars so desperately need if they want to compete next year and now might be the time to make an offer.
What do you all think? Is Kane worth it?