At long last, the Chicago Blackhawks officially sent star winger Patrick Kane to the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.
In return, the Rangers are sending two draft picks to Chicago -- a conditional 2023 second-round pick and a 2025 fourth-rounder. The 2023 second-round pick will become a first-rounder if the Rangers make the Eastern Conference finals. However, that first-round pick would be in 2024 or 2025.
The Rangers also sent minor league defenseman Andy Welinski to the Blackhawks, while minor league defenseman Cooper Zech joins Kane in heading to New York.
At 5 p.m. ET, New York finally accrued the appropriate amount of cap space to fit in Kane's contract. Chicago will retain 50% of Kane's $10.5 million contract, and the Arizona Coyotes signed on to take on 50% of that, meaning Kane will count for only $2.625 million against the Rangers' cap.
"We definitely took that into consideration. There probably wasn't another situation where we would have pushed the limits," Rangers general manager Chris Drury said of his difficult salary cap situation during an online media availability. "But to get a Patrick Kane, you don't get an opportunity like that very often."
Arizona will get a 2025 third-round pick from the Rangers for facilitating the deal. And Chicago acquired Finnish defenseman Vili Saarijarvi from Arizona to complete it.
"I'm so thankful for everything the city, the Blackhawks organization, my teammates and the fans have done for me and my family over the last 16 years -- the support was constant from day one and Chicago will forever be home for us," Kane said in a statement released by the Blackhawks. "This has been an emotional time for me and my family, but I feel this decision puts me in the best spot to immediately win another Stanley Cup.
"This isn't about me leaving the Blackhawks, but this is an opportunity for me -- the Blackhawks did everything they could to put me in a great position and I will forever be grateful. It is bittersweet to leave a place that is so special to me, but I will always carry the memories we made in Chicago."
For everything you've done for our city, our fans and our team:— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) March 1, 2023
Thank you, @88PKane 🎬 pic.twitter.com/rNAwjWveMa
Kane will fly to New York and make his debut Thursday at home against Ottawa, the team said. The Rangers on Wednesday will meet the Flyers in Philadelphia.
Kane, a three-time Stanley Cup champion who was picked No. 1 by the Blackhawks in 2007, is in the final year of an eight-year deal that carried a no-movement clause. The 34-year-old winger forced Chicago's hand to go to his preferred destination, which significantly lowered the potential return for the Blackhawks.
"I think Patrick recognized it was a good fit for him and it's a good fit for us," Drury said. "We're certainly excited that he wanted to be traded and that it was to the New York Rangers."
Sources close to Kane said he was emotional about the move, as he always envisioned himself retiring as a Blackhawks player.
Dealing away Kane represents Chicago's official turn away from its championship era as it rebuilds through the draft with a new management team and coaching staff in place.
The Rangers initially wanted to add only one high-end winger at the trade deadline, according to multiple sources, and they chose Vladimir Tarasenko of the Blues over Kane earlier this month.
"It's not, like, the happiest I've been to hear about a trade," Kane told reporters shortly after.
According to sources, multiple teams tried to pursue Kane -- including the Carolina Hurricanes, Dallas Stars and Edmonton Oilers -- however, the winger pushed behind the scenes to still go to the Rangers.
"It just kind of built up in the last couple days," Drury said, "where we felt like we had a real chance to do this."
Kane has been receiving treatment for a hip injury this year, which is one of the reasons the Rangers initially hit pause on acquiring the veteran, sources told ESPN. Kane told reporters that the severity of that injury had been overblown, then he went on a tear -- scoring seven goals and 10 points in his four most recent games, before leaving the Blackhawks' West Coast trip Saturday to return to Chicago once the Rangers trade materialized.
In New York, Kane will be reunited with Artemi Panarin -- his linemate for two seasons in Chicago, including Panarin's Calder Trophy-winning rookie season in 2015-16.
A native of Buffalo, New York, Kane topped 20 goals in 14 of his 15 seasons before this one. And last season, as the rebuild was just beginning to take shape in Chicago, he still managed 26 goals and 92 points.
Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz sent a letter to team employees after the deal was announced, calling the deadline "challenging," but said trading Kane was "another step in the process" in their commitment to building another winner in Chicago.
"Patrick has earned the opportunity to chase another Stanley Cup," Wirtz wrote.
In speaking about the club's rebuild, Wirtz said the team would "continue tirelessly to achieve our goals."
"These decisions are tough," he wrote. "And I commend (general manager) Kyle (Davidson) and his team for their leadership in navigating this challenging trade deadline."