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Rangers' trade for Patrick Kane not without red flags

A lot can change in eight years, but New York is betting Kane has enough left to take this Rangers team over the top.

The New York Rangers and Patrick Kane both finally got their wish on Tuesday, as the big-name forward waived his no-movement clause to make a trade happen with the Chicago Blackhawks.

For better or worse, the Rangers have exploited the advantage of playing in New York City to land some of the biggest names in hockey. It’s easy to fixate on the times that worked out, especially when Mark Messier helped break their Stanley Cup curse in 1994. Yet, this team’s also been burned by chasing marquee names at huge prices even as their acts became more suited off-Broadway.

Will this be a “careful what you wish for” situation for Kane and the Rangers, or will he be the missing piece to a glorious run?

Let’s examine how Kane may fit the Rangers’ puzzle, and how New York looks heading toward a hopeful playoff run.

The Rangers are banking on Patrick Kane recapturing his form from years past. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
The Rangers are banking on Patrick Kane recapturing his form from years past. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images) (TNS)

Kane carries some of the same red flags as Tarasenko

When Kane bemoaned what he thought was the death of his dream of joining the Rangers after the Tarasenko trade, he likely assumed New York was out of cap space.

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Perhaps Kane should’ve assumed that Tarasenko made him redundant because, broadly, they bring such similar strengths and weaknesses to the table. At this point in their respective careers, both Kane and Tarasenko likely need to be sheltered from difficult defensive assignments (possibly to an extreme degree).

Check out this Evolving Hockey RAPM comparison chart to see how similarly they struggle at even strength, and note that this is being generous to Kane by zooming out with a three-year view, rather than just focusing on this season’s struggles.

It’s silly to assume Tarasenko is already toast for the Rangers, but it’s been a bumpy start. The real struggle may boil down to weighing the current Tarasenko against memories of his days as a tank of an offensive force.

At 34, Kane presents his own problem when it comes to weighing nostalgia against reality. Sure, it’s true that his vision and playmaking may sometimes be underscored by public models that struggle with certain things, such as truly capturing the impact of someone who can make great passes to the slot and high-danger areas.

At some point, you risk putting on blinders when it comes to ignoring too many alarms. That’s before you grapple with Kane’s very ugly off-ice issues from the past.

The Rangers are no strangers when it comes to getting lured in by big names, only to be left disappointed. Factor in a certain level of fussiness from Kane — possibly only entertaining the idea of joining a single team, maybe grumbling about playing with certain players — and it’s fair to wonder how flexible he’ll be if Plan A doesn’t work out.