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Should Bruins pursue Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane before NHL trade deadline?

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Should Bruins pursue Patrick Kane before the NHL trade deadline? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Bruins are the NHL’s best team through the first quarter of the 2022-23 season.

They entered Monday tied for the league lead in goals scored and fewest goals allowed. The special teams units have been effective and the goaltending, at least as far as Linus Ullmark is concerned, has been elite. Boston’s depth has been fantastic, too, with 20 different players scoring at least one goal over the first 21 games.

The upcoming March 3 trade deadline will be a fascinating one for the Bruins.

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Do they make minor roster tweaks and mostly rely on what’s been working so well to this point? Or should they take advantage of this success and make another huge blockbuster deal to add a star-level impact player?

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has done it before, with the best examples coming in 2018 (Rick Nash trade), 2021 (Taylor Hall trade) and 2022 (Hampus Lindholm trade).

The biggest name expected to be on the trade market in the coming months is Chicago Blackhawks superstar right winger Patrick Kane.

What’s the latest on Kane’s future in Chicago?

Here’s Mark Lazerus of The Athletic in a story published Sunday:

“Kane wants to stay I truly believe that. But it’s no longer realistic to envision that Kane will still be wearing a No. 88 Blackhawks sweater come March 3. The Blackhawks are forcing his hand. They’re driving arguably the greatest player in the team history out of town.”

Kane is in the final year of his contract with a salary cap hit of $10.5 million, per CapFriendly. That’s a huge number, but if the Bruins are able to clear some salary (trading Mike Reilly and Craig Smith would open up room) and the Blackhawks retained some salary, it’s possible a deal could be worked out. Making it work under the cap is a huge challenge, though.

Kane is 34 but remains an excellent offensive player. He has tallied 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) in 21 games on a Blackhawks team that’s lost seven straight and sits at the bottom of the Central Division. Kane is also one of the best postseason performers of his era with three Stanley Cup titles, a 2013 Conn Smythe Trophy and 132 points in 136 career playoff games. He’d be the ideal addition for a contending team.

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Sure, the Bruins have lots of scoring depth but they could use a little more firepower on the wing. Taylor Hall has scored only one goal in his last 11 games. Jake DeBrusk is off to a nice start (16 points in 20 games) but he’s been very inconsistent in recent seasons. Craig Smith has scored one goal in 12 games and is currently battling an injury. Several of the bottom-six forwards, especially Nick Foligno, have scored at a higher rate than expected, but how sustainable is that long term?

Adding a player of Kane’s caliber would be a massive boost for the Bruins as they try to make potentially one last run at a Stanley Cup title. The B’s core is pretty old. Patrice Bergeron is 37. David Krejci is 36. Neither player is signed beyond this season. Brad Marchand is 34. David Pastrnak isn’t signed beyond this season, either.

Kane is also one of the best postseason performers of his era with three Stanley Cup titles, a 2013 Conn Smythe Trophy and 132 points in 136 career playoff games. He’d be the ideal addition for a contending team.

Nick Goss on Patrick Kane’s potential impact if traded

If the Bruins see this season as “The Last Dance” with this group, then it has to go all-in at the trade deadline and take advantage of this glorious opportunity.

The Bruins do lack elite trade chips. Their prospect pool is among the league’s worst, and they don’t own a second-round pick in 2023 or 2024. But putting together the best trade package might not be the determining factor in where Kane goes — if he’s traded at all — – Because he has a full no-movement clause and can veto any deal. He controls the process.

What Kane will decide as the trade deadline approaches is anyone’s guess, but it will be one of the most interesting storylines to watch as March 3 gets closer. A Kane trade, wherever he goes, has the potential to significantly alter the balance of power in the league.

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