Here's the latest on where Patrick Kane could sign this season: report

Patrick Kane is close to returning to the ice, according to The Athletic’s Chris Johnston.

According to Johnston, Kane and his agent, Pat Brisson, “have started the process of speaking directly to those in the running for his services.”

“It’s kind of like the interview period we used to have for July 1,” Brisson said to Pierre LeBrun on Tuesday. “That’s what we’re starting to do here.”

Here are the teams Johnston mentions could be fits for Kane:

New York Rangers

It’s the team Kane allowed the Blackhawks to trade him to in the first place last season. And although a first-round playoff exit to the New Jersey Devils stings, Kane has familiarity with the Rangers.

One caveat returning to Broadway, however, is cap space. The Rangers would have to maneuver their roster to bring in Kane, who’s looking for a contending team, as well as one that can sign him long-term.

Florida Panthers

The Panthers check the competitive box, as they just competed against the Las Vegas Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.

According to Johnston, Kane has an established relationship with Bill Zito, the team’s general manager. The two were together for the 2018 IIHF World Championship with Team USA.

Emily Kaplan previously reported the Panthers are “interested” in Kane, too.

Detroit Red Wings

It’s the one that’ll sting Blackhawks fans the most.

However, for Kane, joining the Red Wings means reuniting with one of his favorite linemates — Alex DeBrincat. He inked a three-year deal in Detroit this past offseason and already has nine goals this season.

The question is — does Kane believe the Red Wings are ready to compete? They haven’t been to the playoffs since the 2015-16 season, and Kane’s chasing for higher than that. They’re currently third in the Atlantic Division, poised for a playoff berth if the season ended today.

Buffalo Sabres

Another team familiar to Kane, the Sabres offer something no other team can — playing in his hometown.

Like the Rangers, Buffalo offers the convenience of Kane’s family being able to attend with ease. That was a tidbit mentioned last season for Kane when he was traded to New York.

The Sabres aren’t currently in the wild card. But, rare to other teams — besides the Red Wings — the Sabres have cap space. They have the third most in the NHL this season. Hence, they could sign Kane long-term, no questions asked.

Toronto Maple Leafs

And finally, the newest installment to the Patrick Kane rumor mill — the Maple Leafs.

At the top of the Eastern Conference wild card, the Leafs possess some attractive offerings. Johnston mentioned Kane has been rehabbing from his offseason hip surgery in Toronto.

Plus, according to Johnston, Auston Matthews — a fellow American hockey player — grew up a huge fan of Kaner. That duo would be lethal.

Where will Kane end up? The answer is coming relatively soon.

Click here to follow the Blackhawks Talk Podcast.