By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @nathandrsn
Every year the Bruins seem to be in the hunt for the playoffs. Along with this comes the yearly rumors that the Bruins are in the market for one of the more prominent names at the trade deadline. Don Sweeney turned those rumors into reality in the last two seasons by trading for Taylor Hall at the 2021 deadline and Hampus Lindholm last season.
With the Bruins having one of their best seasons ever so far, I suppose it only makes sense that they are linked with one of the game’s biggest stars in what seems to be an early candidate for this year’s trade target rumor. Patrick Kane would add to a Bruins offense that has been firing on all cylinders this year. With an objectively weak farm system, would a trade for Patrick Kane even be possible for the Bruins?
To make that trade happen, the Bruins would probably have to send at least one, if not two or three, of their best prospects to the Blackhawks. With the Bruins’ prospect pool already depleted after years of trying to chase Stanley Cups with no success, I don’t know if the system could handle trading away a few more.
At least one of Fabian Lysell or Mason Lohrei would be heading the other way. Lysell has played very well in his first AHL season so far, from what I understand, and while Mason Lohrei is still in college, his 6’4″ frame should translate well to the NHL when he is ready to make the jump. I think the Bruins would regret trading either of them in five or six years once they’ve had a few years in the league.
In addition to giving up one of the top prospects in the system, the Bruins would also need to clear up a lot of cap space. The Bruins are almost as close to the salary cap as they possibly can be, and Patrick Kane is in the last year of a contract in which he earns $10.5 million yearly. Therefore, to have any chance of making a deal happen, the Bruins would have to dump a lot of cap in this trade.
Right now, the most likely candidates would probably be Mike Reilly and Craig Smith. Those two guys are signed to $3 million and $3.1 million contracts, respectively, so trading them would usually free up $6.1 million in cap space. However, because the Bruins have buried Reilly’s contract in the minors, it would only be worth about $1.5 million right now. Smith’s contract would also be worth a bit less because we’re midway through the season, so trading the two of them would clear up just under $2 million.
With the Blackhawks only allowed to retain half of Patrick Kane’s contract, that would mean the Bruins still would not have enough room to take him on. If I remember correctly, the Lightning was able to work some magic that allowed them to involve a third team in a trade a couple of years ago so that they only had to take on 25% of a contract, but even that would be tough. As the season goes on, the amount of cap space needed to take on Kane will decrease, but the amount of space freed up by dealing Smith and Reilly will also decrease.
The trade also doesn’t make much sense with the Bruins’ current lineup. To fit Kane in, they’d likely have to move someone like Jake DeBrusk, Taylor Hall, or Pavel Zacha down a line. Moving Brad Marchand or David Pastrnak out of the top six is not an option. Moving a winger as part of the trade could be an option, but if the Bruins are playing well, I’d rather keep the team as is than blow everything up for an aging star.
All in all, this trade doesn’t make a lot of sense from almost every angle you look at it from. Moreover, it would require the Bruins to jump through hoops to make the move even remotely possible. If they keep playing the way they have been, this trade sounds fun and exciting, but it is not an avenue the Bruins should explore.