The Panthers are reportedly deep in conversation in trying to lure three-time Stanley Cup champion Patrick Kane to South Florida.
Why would Kane be interested in joining the Panthers is not a mystery.
The Panthers being extremely interested in a future Hall of Famer is not, either.
The big question is: How would this marriage work?
First off, it is no secret that the Panthers are up against the salary cap.
Florida would be over the $83.5 million cap if not for the money they are saving having Aaron Ekblad on long-term injured reserve.
And, Ekblad could return before the end of the month.
So, the Panthers have issues to work out.
But they are more than willing to do so, especially for a player the caliber of one Patrick Kane.
Now, Kane is not going to command the type of money he is used to making.
Kane, who turns 35 on Sunday, is never getting that kind of money to play hockey again.
Remember, he is coming off an eight-year, $84 million deal he signed with the Blackhawks in 2014.
But he could certainly make more money elsewhere than the Panthers would be able to offer — at least this season.
Kane, who was traded from the Blackhawks to the Rangers at last season’s deadline, had hip resurfacing surgery on July 1.
In August, he told the AP he had already been on the ice “about 20 times” and was getting close to a return.
“It’s just exciting to see progression and just feeling better on the ice,” Kane said then. “Kind of getting back to my old self, so it’s pretty exciting.”
Florida is believed to only be able to offer something in the $1 million range that Eric Staal made to center its fourth line last season.
And, to offer that, the Panthers would have to make a couple of roster moves.
Before putting Ekblad on LTIR, the Panthers were about $450,000 under the salary cap with 21 players on the roster.
Once $7 million of Ekblad’s $7.5 million salary came off the cap — albeit, temporarily — the team was able to add two more depth players to the maximum 23.
So, let’s assume that Kane agrees to a $1 million contract, one that perhaps includes numerous performance bonuses which the Panthers could push onto next year’s cap since they probably could not afford to pay them out this season.
What happens then?
Well, the Panthers would have to make some moves.
Nothing major, either.
After sending Will Lockwood back to AHL Charlotte, the Panthers are carrying 22 players — with Mike Reilly and Jonah Gadjovich the extras.
With Brandon Montour and Ekblad expected to return at any time, Florida is already going to have to shed two defensemen with Reilly and a waivers-exempt Uvis Balinskis the likely candidates.
That leaves a forward Florida would have to move to fit Kane in.
General manager Bill Zito knows how to make things work if this deal were to go down, but again, it appears to hinge on Kane taking what amounts to be a league-minimum deal to join a contender like the Panthers.
“This week, (Kane) is going to start talking with some teams and Bill Zito … has been one of the most aggressive general managers when it comes to Kane,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said on the latest 32 Thoughts Podcast.
“They don’t have a ton of money, they cannot offer the most money. They can probably only offer a one-year deal … but (Zito) is like the phone salesperson who calls you over dinner. I have heard he is very aggressive with Kane. They can’t offer the most money, but they offer a chance to win.”
But here is the thing: The Panthers aren’t the only contender out there, and, a team like Toronto could offer a lot more money.
Kane is from Buffalo and could want to play close to home — either with the Sabres or Maple Leafs.
He would get more money from both.
Although Toronto is also up against the cap, it does have a number of players on LTIR which gives them a lot more money to play with.
Goalie Matt Murray is out for the season and his $4.7 million is off the cap allowing the Leafs to juice their offer up from the league minimum.
Vegas and Colorado also have LTIR money waiting to be handed out.
The Dallas Stars are close to the cap ceiling but reportedly would make things work to bring Kane in.
Dallas is also believed to be close to Florida when it comes to what kind of contract it can offer.
Then, there is where Kane would play.
That can wait for another day.
Figuring out which line Kane jumps on is a problem the Panthers will be thrilled to have.
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS @ SAN JOSE SHARKS
- When: Tuesday, 10:30 p.m.
- Where: SAP Center; San Jose, Calif.
- Streaming ONLY: ESPN+/Hulu
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WPOW 96.5 FM-2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932; NHL App
- Last season: Florida won 2-0
- This season — Florida Leads 1-0: @Florida 3, San Jose 1 (Oct. 24); @San Jose, Tuesday
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 22-13-1, 7 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Thursday at Los Angeles Kings, 10:30 p.m. (BSF)