Patrick Kane focused on health of hip first, open to Rangers return but uncertain

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Patrick Kane Rangers
New York Rangers right wing Patrick Kane (88) skates up the ice during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Ottawa Senators, Thursday, March 2, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — Patrick Kane spoke of the Rangers as a player looking on the outside during his exit interview on Wednesday afternoon.

“I think it’s a special group in here. I think they’ll find a way to win,” he said. “They’ll get there. They have great leadership. It’s a great organization, the fans are very passionate. It’s a fun place to play.”

The 34-year-old winger only experienced 19 regular-season games and seven postseason games as a member of the Rangers after he was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks at the NHL trade deadline — a move that had been speculated on for years. Yet he nor Vladimir Tarasenko was enough to get past the New Jersey Devils in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Now, the future Hall-of-Famer and three-time Stanley Cup champion will be a free agent for the first time in his career. And while he admitted that he’d want to be back, he’s uncertain of the Rangers’ motives.

“Of course, I would love to be back,” Kane said. “If I could feel better, and with this team and with this opportunity, I’d love to have that chance. I know they have young guys to sign and probably other priorities, but I don’t have a bad thing to say about the organization and the situation. It was an amazing experience for me.”

Patrick Kane Rangers
New York Rangers’ Patrick Kane (88) celebrates his goal during the first period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The Rangers have a projected $12 million in cap space this offseason and potentially do have other items on their checklist to address. Defenseman K’Andre Miller is a restricted free agent while Vladimir Tarasenko and Tyler Motte are also set to hit the open market as unrestricted talents

But before Kane could speculate on where he’ll play his hockey next season, the first priority is to sort out how he’ll handle a lingering hip injury that has caused him problems for the past “couple years.”

“I’m going to have to find a way to get me back to as close to 100% as possible,” Kane said. “If I look at that series and I know if I felt a little bit better, I know I could’ve helped us win that series. It’s disappointing and depressing in a way.

“We’ll figure everything out, talk to the doctors, and see what the plan is going forward.”

Surgery has not been ruled out, which could diminish his market when free agency begins on July 1 if he is still working on his recovery.

“I don’t even know what’s going to happen in that regard,” Kane said. “The main focus is the health right now…I’m turning 35 next year but it’s not like I feel old. I feel pretty young and the passion is still there. I know I could be a top player if my focus is solely on hockey and not on how I feel.”

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