Re-signing Patrick Kane won't come without consequences

Seemingly, the biggest question for the Detroit Red Wings heading into the off-season is whether or not Patrick Kane will return to the club next season.
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There have been discussions about the possibility of star winger Patrick Kane rejoining the Detroit Red Wings. However, there are concerns about whether general manager Steve Yzerman is willing to agree to a multi-year term and can afford to meet Kane's asking price while also strengthening the rest of Detroit's roster and surpassing their 91-point record from last season.

The soon-to-be 36-year-old winger is coming off a near point-per-game pace, proving that he's fully recovered from his complex off-season hip resurfacing surgery. Kane notched 20 goals and 47 points over 50 games this past season. He also led the Detroit Red Wings with seven game-winning goals. Kane's 0.94 points-per-game average was second to only Dylan Larkin's 1.01.

The future first-ballot Hall Of Famer scored just two power-play goals but was often utilized as the puck carrier to enter the zone while with the man advantage. Kane frequently displayed his elite vision as the catalyst on the power play recording 13 power play assists from the right wing circle. He'd become valuable either playing catch with Shayne Gostisbehere or Moritz Seider at the point as they waited for the bumper position to come open, or he'd feather a unique cross-ice pass to a waiting Alex DeBrincat or David Perron for a high-scoring one-timer attempt. Gostisbehere led the Red Wings with a whopping 27 power play assists, followed by Seider's 14 and Kane's 13.

There will be roster repercussions if Patrick Kane returns to the Detroit Red Wings

"Patrick was great, wasn’t he," general manager Steve Yzerman said in his year-end review. "Like a wizard with the puck. His skills, his sense, the calmness with the puck in high-pressure situations and in the danger areas — he was great for our team. Really filled a void for us and I really think he brought a lot of swagger to our team, in his own way."

During his exit interview, Kane, like the savvy veteran he is, didn't offer up much information on his future other than that he enjoyed his time in Detroit but is open to dipping his toe into the open market as a free agent this summer. Kane did note that he'd like the security of a multi-year deal and that he envisions himself playing until he's 40.

"It was a great year," Kane said. "I’ve nothing but positive things to say about the organization and the opportunity from Steve and (Derek Lalonde) to come play. I feel like I got a lot of opportunities to play in the top six and power play and play with some great players. It was fun to be around the group, it was fun to be a wing in this organization, and I’ll definitely have some memories to last me a lifetime. I’m a free agent. I’m just kind of going to explore the situation here, talk to my agent, and go over everything. Kind of see what makes sense."

Steve Yzerman will need to focus on navigating the salary cap this summer.

For the first time, Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman will be tasked with improving the team and navigating the salary cap. Detroit can ill afford to take a step backward this summer but have a few tough decisions to make. Pending restricted free agents Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider are due to see significant salary increases this summer. Many suggest both players will see an eight-year deal that averages at least $8 million per season. I align with that notion, but what if Seider's camp looks for more of a Rasmus Dahlin figure?

Dahlin recently signed an eight-year extension with the Buffalo Sabres that carries an average annual salary of $11 million. Although Seider is a talented defender and the clear top option on the Red Wings, he doesn't quite have Dahlin's offensive upside yet. I mention yet, because Dahlin just finished his sixth NHL season and really exploded offensively in year four. Dahlin is coming off 15 and 20-goal seasons over the past two and a 73-point year last season followed up with a 59-point campaign this past season. Over his first three seasons, Dahlin totaled 18 goals and 107 points over 197 games compared to Seider's 21 goals and 134 points over 246 games over his first three seasons. Although they are different players, there are many similarities between them. Both are top pairing defenders, both are six-foot-three, just over 200 pounds, and both were top-six draft choices as Dahlin went 1.1.

Only time will tell, but many are expecting the combination of Raymond and Seider to eat up $16 million in cap space combined moving forward, but that number could come in closer to $18 million, which leaves Yzerman with between $8.5-10.5 million in cap space barring a cap relief trade, etc. If Kane returns to Detroit, it's expected that he will command $5.5 million, leaving the Red Wings with, at best, $5 million remaining to fill out their roster.

Sure, I expect to see a couple of players who are on their entry-level contracts to earn a spot on the Red Wings opening day roster next season, such as Marco Kasper and perhaps Carter Mazur and/or Nate Danielson. Contributions from those types of players will aid the Red Wings' cap situation, but also trimming the fat of, say, Andrew Copp, Justin Holl, and perhaps Ville Husso, Olli Maatta, or Robby Fabbri would give Yzerman more flexibility moving forward.

Moving some salary out will allow Yzerman to re-sign one or two others like Shayne Gostisbehere, Daniel Sprong, or maybe David Perron. Or does Yzerman elect not to re-sign Kane in exchange for roster volume? By not re-upping with Kane, Yzerman may be able to bring back the remainder of the current UFAs if he so chooses. Keep this in mind: some people make it seem simple to move out what can be considered a lousy salary, but if it's such a bad deal, or we feel the player is vastly underachieving, I don't exactly see teams lining up to trade for said player.