The Toronto Maple Leafs had been quite active this offseason, bringing in the likes of Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi, Ryan Reaves, John Klingberg and others through free agency. However, is their job completely done yet?
After all, Kane has been one of NHL’s most prolific offensive players in the past decade and a half, averaging over a point per game throughout his entire career.
Currently, he is coming off major hip surgery that took place this past June, but is recovering faster than expected, with even the possibility of being back to full health and ready to go by the start of the NHL season.
Should the Toronto Maple Leafs sign free agent Patrick Kane?
If that is the case, should the Leafs consider adding the nine-time All-Star and former Hart Trophy winner?
Why the Leafs Should Sign Kane
Being a three-time Stanley Cup champion and former Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Kane certainly knows what it takes to win. With his breadth of experience in his 17-year career in the league, including over 140 games in the playoffs, he will be able to help lead the Leafs in showing them how to get it done.
Moreover, Kane is believed to be one of the best American hockey players of his generation, and Auston Matthews is perhaps the best in the current generation. So being able to pair up generational talents from different generations on the same team is certainly something many would love to see and behold.
In addition, since Kane is coming off major surgery, as well as a somewhat down year for him in 2022-23, the Leafs may be able to grab him at a huge discount to help squeeze him into their payroll, which unfortunately still needs some work prior to the start of the season
Finally, Kane would probably do everything he can to play at his best to show everyone he still has plenty in the tank, as eventually he would like to sign a final, longer term deal leading up to his retirement.
Why the Leafs Should Not Sign Kane
However, at the same time, there are some red flags to be weary about. First of all, coming off major surgery, it will be uncertain how much Kane will be able to regain his prior dominant form.
Secondly, his game appeared to be trending downwards this past season. Whether that was due to the hip issue that was nagging him throughout the year, or whether age had finally begun to catch up to him as he is turning 35 this coming November, is up for debate.
Thirdly, with right wing being Kane’s primary playing position, the Leafs already have both Mitch Marner and William Nylander filling those spots on the top two lines. So adding Kane would result in either Kane playing on his off-wing, one of Marner or Nylander playing on their off-wing, or Kane may end up playing on the third line. In any of those cases, they wouldn’t be playing to their strengths, which could potentially impact their effectiveness and production overall as a result.
Finally, adding Kane to the Leafs’ lineup would ultimately take away one of the spots for one of the younger players such as Nick Robertson, Matthew Knies, Pontus Holmberg and others trying to crack the lineup. With the current NHL game built primarily on speed, that trade-off could potentially have a big impact on the Leafs as the season wears on.
If the Leafs manage to fit in Kane on a short, one-year deal worth less than $1 million, it may be worth the gamble to give him a shot with the group. After all, the current core of Matthews, Marner, Nylander, and John Tavares that has been intact for the last five years haven’t had much success to show for in the playoffs so far, so perhaps a sudden inspirational boost by adding one of the best in the game is enough to take the entire team to the next level.
However, if Kane is seeking a multi-year, and/or expensive contract, the Toronto Maple Leafs should steer clear of the superstar before their cap troubles get even worse. Nevertheless, having a chance to add a player with Kane’s calibre is always worth thinking about.