Red Wings veteran more than exceeded expectations in 2023-24

A lot of questions surrounded Patrick Kane's health upon joining the Detroit Red Wings but he more than exceeded expectations this past season earning a stellar report card.
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When Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman signed Patrick Kane to a prorated one-year $2.75 million deal last fall, it was a no-brainer, a low-risk, high-reward type of deal. After rehabbing from hip resurfacing surgery, a procedure few have ever returned from to have any withstanding success; the Red Wings struck gold by landing the first-ballot future Hall of Famer for the 2023-24 season.

The addition didn't come without skepticism and dismay among many Red Wings fans, especially the social media warriors, as I like to refer to a bunch. When any move is made, the online crowd is quick to criticize yet as quick to forget what their initial thought was once it's determined to be a good transaction. But if the move fails, they never forget. That's sports, that's politics, that's life, I suppose. One of the more common (hockey) complaints aside from the Chicago Blackhawks organization's attempt at burying the Kyle Beach sexual assault case had been concerns about how adding Kane would stunt the growth of Lucas Raymond. Well, that simply didn't happen. It was the exact opposite. Kane's presence aided Raymond, 22, and some other young players on Detroit's roster. Following the season, Raymond had great things to say about spending time with Kane and watching him work. Kane often displays such great patience with the puck that, combined with his elite vision and the way he sees the ice, there is a lot a player like Raymond can take from that experience, even if it is just for a year.

Kane, 35, was quick to prove to the Red Wings and the entire league that he was fully healthy and could remain healthy for the entire season. The veteran winger did have a slight hiccup just before the All-Star break when he suffered a lower-body injury. Still, the organization quickly mentioned that the issue had nothing to do with the surgically repaired hip. The Red Wings used the All-Star break and Red Wings bye week to allow Kane an extended recovery period.

Patrick Kane excelled during his 'prove-it' year with the Detroit Red Wings.

Patrick Kane. B+. Forward. Detroit Red Wings. Patrick Kane

The three-time Stanley Cup winner produced 20 goals and 47 points over 50 games this past season for the Red Wings and led the team with seven game-winning goals. Kane maintained a Corsi For Percentage of 48.4 and a Relative Corsi For Percentage of 3.0 during even-strength situations, his best mark in that category since 2021-22 and the third best of his career. Kane's 3.1 points/60 minutes were his best since 2020-21.

Understanding that Kane's game comes with some defensive deficiencies, I hope the Detroit Red Wings find a way to bring him back, even if it's a multi-year deal. Kane all but mentioned during his season-ending exit interview that he would likely test the free agency market, but he wouldn't rule out a potential return.

“It’s kind of hard to say right now, because everything’s just so fresh, with the season being done and everything,” Kane said. “I think coming into this year, my decision was based on playing on a good team, a team where I thought I fit in well. Obviously, the comfort (of) playing with Alex (DeBrincat) again was something I was looking forward to, and I really enjoyed that as well. But as the season goes on, you realize there’s a lot of good players here, there’s a lot of good players to play with, and as I said before, was put in a great situation to succeed and play a lot of minutes and play with some good players. So I was really appreciative of that.

“And I think it will be similar going forward, too. It’s like: How do I fit in with the team? Who would I play with? Things like that. I mean, obviously, I think from being in Chicago for so long, and then going to New York, coming to Detroit, maybe looking for, like, a little bit more stability as far as, like, term. But I think the right situation matters, too.”

The on and off-ice connection he's built with forward Alex DeBrincat will undoubtedly come into play this summer, plus he's built additional relationships with players on this Detroit squad. Kane will likely command $5-$6 million annually on a multi-year deal, which complicates things for Yzerman, who will first focus on extending pending restricted free agents Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond to (likely) eight-year deals. Suppose the Red Wings hope to have enough funds to retain Kane. In that case, other pending unrestricted free agents, such as David Perron, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Daniel Sprong, in all likelihood, will need to be replaced by rookie skaters on entry-level deals.

Kane is essentially a 100-foot player who doesn't work the wall well, doesn't get in on the forecheck, and won't impose his will physically. Still, he does have a knack for scoring big-time goals; he's excellent on the power play, and if he's playing on a line with a reliable two-way center and a winger that can play even a bit more physical can continue to be a significant asset to this Red Wings team looking to climb over the hump next season.

It's noteworthy that the Red Wings performed far better when head coach Derek Lalonde split up Kane and DeBrincat during even-strength play but also proved extremely dangerous when reunited on the power play. DeBrincat, with Dylan Larkin and Raymond, proved to be a formidable top line, and coming back with J.T. Compher, Perron, and Kane often allowed the Red Wings to continue building much-needed offensive momentum.