Well, the wait is finally over after months of speculation; star forward Patrick Kane has officially signed a one-year deal worth $2.75 million with the Detroit Red Wings. The agreement is prorated, meaning he will earn roughly two million for the remainder of the 2023-24 season. It’s nice to see players choosing to play in Detroit again.
Signing a long-time foe doesn’t always go over well with the fanbase, plus Kane does come with some baggage. The fact of the matter is many young players on Detroit’s roster will be beyond excited to play with one of the all-time great players. General manager Steve Yzerman would have done his due diligence before signing Kane regarding any possible character issues or anything that could have a negative impact on the locker room.
Is Yzerman bulletproof from criticism? No. Has he made questionable transactions in the past? Of course. Like the better GMs, Yzerman seems to be right more than he’s wrong, and that’s why the slogan ‘In Yzerman we trust’ or the ‘Yzerplan’ had been created. If this addition of Kane doesn’t work out, Yzerman will own it and quickly move on as he did with Jakub Vrana; you can count on that. Adding Kane also signals to the players that Yzerman is ready to make a serious playoff run this season. The Red Wings have areas that could use improvement, but they are a formidable, deep club up front, as deep as any contender. Detroit is no longer adding just young prospects and draft capital. Yzerman is taking a step forward in his rebuild, and we’re officially at the ‘let’s add a veteran’ for a serious playoff push.
This Patrick Kane signing is a low-risk, high-reward deal for the Detroit Red Wings.
If nothing else, Patrick Kane gives Detroit a veteran player with a winning pedigree in the room, plus head coach Derek Lalonde, another great option on the power play. Kane has tremendous vision and hockey sense. Although he won’t be that elite-level scorer he once was, he has continued to prove late in his career to be an elite passer.
Before making his decision, Kane spoke with Lalonde about Detroit’s system, his would-be responsibilities, and the vision of the franchise.
"“Obviously a brilliant hockey mind,” Lalonde said. “You can tell he’s watched us a lot. It was an easy conversation. Impressed with our neutral zone. ‘What are you doing in the neutral zone? What are you doing in your defensive zone?’ Just understanding what kind of player he is and how we thought he could fit in, if it does happen, there’s going to be some time here, a level of patience from us going forward.”"
I envision Kane on Detroit’s top power-play unit on one of the flanks opposite his old pal Alex DeBrincat. On the same unit, we’ll see Dylan Larkin in the bumper spot with David Perron or J.T. Compher as the net front body and either Shayne Gostisbehere or Moritz Seider anchoring the point. Perron has been really good of late on the power play, playing back in the shooter’s flank position, so perhaps he moves down to the second group while Kane builds chemistry with the top unit. Perron did begin the year as a net-front body so he leaves the Detroit Red Wings with options.
Alex DeBrincat is excited to play with Patrick Kane again.
"“His hockey IQ is pretty high, above a lot of other people,” DeBrincat said. “The way he is able to slow the game down and make the game come to him, he’s obviously a guy the other team is worried about and is focused on. He can draw a couple guys in and move the puck. It’s something that I kind of had to learn to play with, he’s not a guy who is maybe going to make the first play he sees. He’s going to hold onto it and usually something better opens and then he’s moving it.“It’s exciting. We’ve been friends for a while and have some chemistry on the ice, so it should be fun.”"
When it comes to even-strength play, I would anticipate seeing Patrick Kane begin his Red Wings career on the same line as DeBrincat. The two performed outstandingly together in Chicago, with Kane as the set-up man and DeBrincat as the finisher. DeBrincat recorded two 41-goal seasons over that span. DeBrincat has quickly built up a lot of chemistry with Larkin this season, so I don’t see there being much of an issue for Kane to fit in.
Detroit’s top line of DeBrincat, Larkin, and Lucas Raymond had recently been dismantled. It’s been Joe Veleno skating with Detroit’s captain and the red-hot Raymond of late. DeBrincat has slid down to the second group with Compher and Michael Rasmussen. If Lalonde doesn’t want to break up the top group, Kane would fit in nicely on this unit in favor of Rasmussen. You know how it goes, though; lines are often juggled during five-on-five play, so Lalonde will certainly enjoy searching for the best combination.
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Kane, a future Hall of Famer, has totaled 451 goals and 1,237 points in his career.