Once the Rangers finalize the trade for Patrick Kane, they will have made possibly the biggest splash in NHL trade deadline history by adding him to the Vladimir Tarasenko trade. Now with two more star wingers in the mix, the question becomes what the Rangers lines look like with Kane and Tarasenko in tow.
Tarasenko has started slow with the Rangers since scoring on his second shift as a Ranger. In fact, he has just 2 goals and 2 assists in 9 games thus far. But that’s not really a concern as he learns his teammates and a new system. He will figure it out. Stars like him always do. The big question is where should he play once Kane arrives.
Similar results with different skillsets
Kane and Tarasenko are known entities. They score goals, they provide offense, and neither really do much work defensively. That said, Kane hasn’t been a play driver on either side of the puck since 2016 or so. He just knows how to set guys up and score goals, which is kind of important for a team struggling to find consistent offense.
Another interesting stat is Kane is among the league leaders in shot assists – passes leading directly to shot attempts.
Patrick Kane has 4.2 shot assists per game. (Passes that lead directly to shot attempts)
Could be quite a lot of playmaking happening for the Rangers… pic.twitter.com/BPKE6maeFs
— Meghan Chayka (@MeghanChayka) February 25, 2023
Kane adds to the already formidable playmaking duo of both Artemi Panarin and Adam Fox. Also per Meghan Chayka, Tarasenko is more of a shooter and sniper, getting a good amount of his goals on goalies that are already set.
— Meghan Chayka (@MeghanChayka) February 11, 2023
So we have more of an assist guy and more of a shooter. If we assume that Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad are to remain together and Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck are to remain together, then it’s really a plug and play for both Tarasenko and Kane. Given their skill sets, Kane could find himself with Kreider and Zibanejad, drawing defenders away from them to get to high scoring areas.
Of course, Kane will likely get at least a few games with Panarin, as the two really clicked in Chicago all those years ago. That could work as well, and likely will have some instant success, but the question will be about defensive play, since neither Kane nor Panarin are strong in their own end.
On paper, the best complementary skills are to get the shooter on Panarin’s line and the passer on Zibanejad’s line. That’s not always how it works out, but it’s what makes logical sense without including the human factor and chemistry factor.
Break up the Kid Line? Mix up the top six?
One wild card is whether or not the Rangers break up the Kid Line. It seems very unlikely, especially since reuniting them created a hole at RW in the top six that played a part in this Kane trade. Breaking them up and moving Kaapo Kakko back to the top line, where he clicked with Zibanejad and Kreider, is one way to ensure a little more balance in the lineup.
But we should assume the Kid Line will remain together and will continue to get sheltered offensive zone starts against weaker competition. This leaves six players in the top six, with the only guarantee being Zibanejad and Trocheck won’t be on the same line.
What about the powerplay?
The Rangers powerplay got some much needed balance with the Tarasenko trade, replacing Trocheck on the top unit and bumping the center to PP2 with the kids. Add Kane to the mix, and he may not even get PP1 time.
In terms of handedness, both are lefties so it’s not a big deal where either one plays. Kane will likely get a chance to cook with Panarin on PP1, which adds even more firepower to PP2 with Tarasenko. The same can be said if Kane goes to PP2.
There’s no wrong answer to where either plays with the man advantage. The question will be which player sits for Kane on the powerplay. None of Kakko, Filip Chytil, or Alexis Lafreniere are playing poorly enough to warrant sitting them, but how do you not sit them for Kane?
Wild idea: Have Kane replace Jacob Trouba and run five forwards on PP2.
Wherever Kane and Tarasenko wind up, they will make the Rangers better. Of that, we have no doubt.