Bruins Beat: Patrick Kane not a perfect fit, but an intriguing one

The Bruins and Patrick Kane? Really? Well, that is a courtship that is apparently happening.

On Monday morning, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman floated the nugget that the Bruins are one of several teams involved in trying to attract the former Chicago Blackhawk superstar who is currently a free agent coming off hip resurfacing surgery.

And it’s not all that surprising that the B’s would be involved. You can say what you want about any trade or draft pick Don Sweeney has or hasn’t made, but you cannot say the Bruins GM doesn’t do his due diligence in going after players he thinks might help his team. He’s made a high profile play for Jimmy Vesey when he was considered an impact contributor coming out of Harvard as a free agent. He tried to throw his chips in with John Tavares when the Maple Leafs’ captain was on the market. Neither of them worked out, but Sweeney was very much in the game.

And there’s also the fact that two of his divisional rivals, the Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings, are also reportedly wooing Kane. If the B’s can’t land him, then maybe Sweeney can at least make it a little more difficult for his rivals to do so.

But is Kane really what the Bruins need? The future Hall of Famer has won almost every trophy he’s been eligible for – the Hart, Calder, Conn Smythe, Art Ross and the Ted Lindsay. But he has most definitely not won the Selke Award given to the league’s best defensive forward, and that’s the type of player the B’s actually need.

Despite their 14-3-3 record and their top-five goals against average, the B’s are by no means where they want to be defensively. That’s a fact that’s been highlighted by their three losses last week when they gave up 17 goals, a number that had very little to do with their stellar goaltending. Considering the number of high danger chances the B’s had been giving up (173 going into Monday’s game in Columbus, good for only 15th in the NHL ), it was a comeuppance that was bound to happen at some point.

Kane will not help that number, nor will he provide the physical snarl that the team could use.

But Selke candidates aren’t readily available at the moment.

The read here is that the B’s brass believes that Kane can help them outscore the defensive deficiencies on the nights that their outstanding goalie tandem of Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman cannot cover up the issues. It could also give Jim Montgomery and his staff more time to further coach up the roster that has seen impactful turnover. It may be hard to remember after the two bad losses to Detroit and the Rangers over the weekend, but on Wednesday they played two of their best defensive periods against a good Florida team. This team can play better structurally than it did over the weekend, it’s just a matter of getting it to do so more consistently.

Just what they’d be getting from the once explosive winger is another question. He had 16-29-45 totals in 54 games with Chicago last season and he ramped up his production as he was about to get dealt. Once with the Rangers, it took him a while to get going and he was just OK, finishing with 5-7-12 totals. In the playoffs, Kane was the Rangers’ third leading scoring (1-5-6) in the Blueshirts’ surprising first round loss to New Jersey.

Whether he’s a better player now than he was before the surgery will only truly be answered after some team signs him.

Another issue is the fact that a player or two would have to go out the door for the B’s to be even in the ballpark, as they are hard up against the salary cap. Things would have been easier for them if rookie defenseman Mason Lohrei proved himself ready for NHL duty. As good a prospect as Lohrei appears to be, there’s no telling if he’ll be ready by the end of the year.

But if the B’s can somehow make the money and term work without damaging their current roster, then it could be worth a try. Few people expected the B’s to be where they are now, but here they are.

Despite their flaws, the standings say that they are a contender. They might as well act like one.

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