Does Patrick Kane trade put Rangers on a path to the Stanley Cup?

Patrick Kane
Patrick Kane / USA TODAY Sports/SNY Treated Image

Now that the Rangers are completing their long-discussed trade for Patrick Kane, we can start the debate over whether they added what they really need for a genuine run at the Stanley Cup – another talented top-6 scorer – or if Kane is a shiny new object that might not get them any closer.

Some believe the Rangers could use more “sandpaper” than skill for what will be a grueling playoff cauldron in a rugged Eastern Conference. And you could argue that the Blueshirts made their skill move when they traded for Vladimir Tarasenko a few weeks ago.

Have the Rangers chosen talent over grit? Maybe. But with Kane, it might be just the choice to help jolt New York deeper into the playoffs after last season’s marvelous, entertaining run to the Eastern Conference Final.

After all, it’s hard to argue with acquiring a future Hall-of-Famer for the right price. Even if this is the 34-year-old version of Kane, one unlikely to win another Hart Trophy, and not the younger superstar.

And Kane brings something that might be more valuable than even a deft scoring touch – he’s got 446 career goals – and that’s this: Presumably, Kane knows all about thriving in the face of outsized expectations. The Rangers created high hopes last season when they reached the NHL’s final four with a young, emerging squad and it’s fair to wonder how they’ve done so far this season in coping with that burden.

Kane knows how to deal. He’s done it all. He was a huge, American-born prospect coming up and the Blackhawks made him the No. 1 overall pick in 2007, which means an immediate microscope. In 2009-10, at 21, he was the leading scorer on a Blackhawks team that won its first Stanley Cup since 1960-61. In 2012-13, Chicago won the Cup again and Kane won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the best player in the playoffs. Two seasons later, he led all playoff scorers and the Blackhawks won it all again.

Patrick Kane
Patrick Kane / David Banks - USA TODAY Sports

Overall, he’s got 1,225 career points in 16 seasons (so far) and is a four-time All-Star.

Kane will probably love the glitter of Madison Square Garden, too, as well as playing alongside multiple other big names. He’s thrived in big moments. His nickname is “Showtime,” for goodness’ sake. He’s coming in as a hired gun to help a team that last won the Cup in 1994 and had gone since 1940 before that.

Think he was unaware of the trade deadline’s approach? In his last four games with the Blackhawks, he scored seven times, perhaps offering one last enticement for the Rangers: See what I can do in big moments?

Will there be an adjustment period? Of course. The Rangers already have a stable full of stars – Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin and more – and Gerard Gallant and his staff will have to figure out how and where Kane fits. There’s only six weeks or so to do it – the Rangers’ regular season finale is April 13. There’ll be shifts in special-team roles looming, slices of the spotlight to divvy up.

Maybe Kane slides onto a line with Panarin, whom Kane enjoyed playing with when Panarin was on the Blackhawks.

However it shakes out, the Rangers will be a gas to watch. And they did not sacrifice their remaining first-round pick – a big deal since the upcoming draft is said to be loaded. Nor did they deal from their pool of top prospects and their young NHL core.

The price wasn’t too dear and Kane is an all-time player. Now, will it be the finishing move for a hungry organization?

Whatever “Showtime” and his new teammates can do on Broadway over the next few months will help tell us.