Waiting For Patrick Kane Requires The New York Rangers To Get Creative

After a trying week of frustrating losses the New York Rangers could laugh about it now, how absurd it was playing with 16 skaters and then 15 for the final 43-plus minutes Sunday night.

Coming off their ugliest week of the season it was the situation they faced in the wake of allowing too many great scoring chances in a hideous 6-3 loss at Washington.

It was the situation facing the Rangers because they and the rest of the NHL are in the midst of the frenzy known as trade season in a hard salary cap era. The Rangers already acquired three players in recent weeks, but they appear to be the front runners to reel in the big one by eventually acquiring Patrick Kane from Chicago.

“It’s a little tiring but at the same time whenever you have 12 (forwards) and six (defensemen) you want more ice time,” Vincent Trocheck said with a slight laugh after scoring twice. “So I guess this was your chance.”

To do so salary cap space is needed and in this case 25 percent of his $10.5 million cap hit and for games that take place before a trade is completed, collective bargaining rules require 18 dressed skaters if a team is complying with the salary cap that became a thing in 2005 after the ill-fated lockout cancelled the 2004-05 season.

And for most of the salary cap era, the Rangers have been buyers. They were in the postseason for 11 out of the first 12 seasons in the cap era and every year when the trade deadline approached, they made some kind of deal with the most notable being the 2014 deal that added Martin St. Louis and the 2015 deal that netted Eric Staal.

St. Louis scored 368 career goals before joining the Rangers and Staal was up to 322 career goals. Kane is up to 446 goals for the Chicago Blackhawks, along with 48 postseason goals, including six in the 2010, 2013 and 2015 Stanley Cup Final.

At this point of his career, Kane gets to approve any trade and all indications are pointing towards the Rangers or nowhere else giving New York the favorable leverage of offering a lesser than usual return package.

With that knowledge in hand, it explains why the Rangers dressed the requisite 18 and wound up playing with 16 and then 15 in a most unique situation that they offer quips about when they ended up with a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings with two games to go before Friday’s trade deadline.

Of course, this was not something sprung on the players at opening faceoff. They likely knew what was going on Sunday morning and even figured out something was up Saturday when Vitali Kravtsov exited the building in Washington as the newest member of the Vancouver Canucks.

“We talked about it as team,” said Adam Fox, who played 25:34 and stuck to the concept of keeping it simple by not taking a shot on goal. “At least as a D corps, we knew just had to keep things simple. You don’t want to go there too long and then when you go down to four, it’s even more important.”

And the number actually could have been down to 14 if Mika Zibanejad’s ankle was as bad as it looked when he blocked a shot. Zibanejad fell to the ice, hobbled back to the room but about 25 minutes later when the third period began he was on the bench and waving to the crowd and then scored the final goal on a most unique night in the wake of a frustrating week and trade rumors might lead some to think it impacted the quality of the performance.

“You hear noise,” Fox said. “Obviously in today’s day and age, you’re gonna hear stuff, but I don’t know if we’re going to sit in this room and say that’s why we lost three games.”

And judging by coach Gerard Gallant’s postgame comments, it sounded like his informing his players of the situation may have included a reference to their youth hockey days when double and triple-shifting often occurred.

“I said to the guys in your minor hockey days everybody loved playing every second or third shift and the defense rolled and just played,” Gallant said with somewhat of a wry smile. “You get into the game that way. Fortunately for us, we got away with it.”

And now they are in the midst of trade season, which is better than trade request season which New York sports fans saw earlier this month when Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant decided they wanted to become former Brooklyn Nets. Those star talents netted four new players and a possibility of tumbling in the standings and struggling to find a closer such as Sunday when Trae Young sank the game-winner in Atlanta shortly after the Rangers began rolling out their 16-man lineup as part of their salary cap gymnastics to possibly and likely land Kane by some point this week.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/larryfleisher/2023/02/26/waiting-for-patrick-kane-requires-the-new-york-rangers-to-get-creative/