NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Once it was announced that Patrick Kane would undergo hip-resurfacing surgery that would sideline the wing for the first portion of next season, there has been a fair amount of speculation that the Rangers would sign their rental property and stow him on long-term injured reserve until he is ready to return in a maneuver to game the system.
If that’s the plan, it would be news to both the Rangers and Kane’s camp. The wing’s agent, Pat Brisson, told The Post by text that he has not talked at all with general manager Chris Drury about a return.
Brisson did say that Kane is doing “great” in rehab and that the 34-year-old likely would begin evaluating his options toward October and would be willing to listen to any offer. That, of course, would include an Act Two on Broadway.
But the proposed scenario makes no sense. If Kane were projected to miss the entire season, the Rangers could indeed sign the winger and keep him on LTIR before activating him for the playoffs without having to shed a nickel off the cap, the way the Lightning did with Nikita Kucherov for their successful 2020-21 championship defense.
But such chicanery is not possible if a player returns during the season, which is the projection for Kane following a four-to-six month rehab that could lead to a return soon after the calendar flips to 2024. If, say, Kane were to sign a discounted $4.5 million deal before going on LTIR, the Rangers would have to shed $4.5 million under the cap in order to add him to the roster.
Let’s see … shedding salary, plus a player or two, in order to accommodate a midseason entry from Kane.
Where have we heard that before and what could possibly go wrong?
The current state of the Rangers in this moment between the conclusion of the draft Thursday and opening of the free-agent market Saturday can be understood by text responses from two agents with clients who would be perfect fits for the bottom-six.
I asked each whether their respective athletes would be interested in coming to New York. The answers were succinct and nearly identical.
“No $$,” said one.
“No $$$,” said the other.
The Blueshirts may have done quite well by selecting right wing Gabriel Perreault 23rd overall and defenseman Drew Fortescue 90th overall, both out of the USNTDP, with their first two picks. The choices have received positive notices and should help to replenish a pipeline that is in need of fortification. That, of course, is critical.
But that does not mean a hill of beans to the 2023-24 squad. There are holes to fill and little capital with which to do so. You know it and so does Drury. There is $11.7 million in cap space to accommodate eight open roster spots, with upward of 50 percent of that to be set aside for impending Group II free agents K’Andre Miller and Alexis Lafreniere.
The math has not changed in weeks. It would change Friday if the Rangers begin the buyout process on Barclay Goodrow that would net $3,841,667 of additional space and give them at least a small measure of maneuverability, but there has been no indication that is in the offing.
If the Rangers do keep Goodrow, it will be because of their belief in his value both on and off the ice and not because a buyout would come back to bite the club with a dead cap charge of $3.65 million in 2026-27.
That is when Perreault will be lighting it up in his rookie season on an entry-level contract, correct?
The Rangers do not have the financial wherewithal to spend the summer hunting for shiny new toys. Drury’s initial priority on the free-agent market is to strike deals with Miller and Lafreniere before either receives an offer sheet that could blow the summer into smithereens.
If there are shiny new toys in Rangerstown. They are named Peter Laviolette, Phil Housley, Michael Peca and Dan Muse. They are the incoming head coach and his assistants.
They are the change.
At least, that is the idea.