CHICAGO – After months of speculation, the Blackhawks have made a trade involving one of the greatest players in the history of their franchise.

The team dealt nine-time All-Star and former MVP Patrick Kane to the New York Rangers ahead of the March 3 NHL trade deadline, per reports from John Dietz of the Daily Herald and from Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff on Tuesday afternoon, which was later confirmed by the team shortly after 7 p.m.

The Blackhawks acquired a conditional 2023 2nd round draft pick, a 2025 4th round pick and defenseman Andy Welinski from the New York Rangers in exchange for forward Patrick Kane and defenseman Cooper Zech. Chicago also receives defenseman Vili Saarijarvi from the Arizona Coyotes as part of the trade.

Kane tweeted a statement thanking fans for the memories made while rocking the Blackhawks sweater over the years. He also provided the following letter to fans, released by the Blackhawks:

“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.

“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.

“I will miss the roar of the United Center, the deafening sound of the anthem and the people of Chicago. Together, we made memories that will last a lifetime like the three Stanley Cup Champions banners that will forever hang at the United Center. I look forward to this next step in my career and will forever be appreciative for all I have received from the Blackhawks and Chicago.”

Patrick Kane

The Blackhawks tweeted a tribute video dedicated to Kane’s time spent with the team shortly after the trade became official, while the team’s CEO Danny Wirtz issued the following statement:

“The contributions Patrick Kane has made to the Blackhawks organization and city of Chicago will never be forgotten. While today marks the end of an era for the team, he will forever be a part of the Blackhawks family. Three Stanley Cups, over 1,000 games, more than 1,200 points, over 400 goals and countless awards are just part of the legacy he leaves here — one of the greatest Blackhawks players in club history. On behalf of Rocky, and my entire family, we wish Patrick, Amanda, Patrick III, and the rest of his family all the best with the New York Rangers and we thank him for the countless joyful memories.”

Chicago Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz

In his 16th NHL season, Kane was entering the final season of an eight-year contract that was signed in the summer of 2014. He’ll join a Rangers team that is currently third in the Metropolitan Division in the Eastern Conference, chasing their first Stanley Cup title since 1994.

(Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

The No. 1 pick of the franchise in the 2007 NHL Draft, Kane leaves Chicago as one of the Blackhawks’ most accomplished players in history, ranking near the top of a number of offensive categories. He has played in 1,161 regular season games, third most in team history, ranking third in goals scored (446), second in assists (779), and second in points (1,225).

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

During his 16 seasons with the team, Kane has been named an All-Star nine times and has made the NHL’s first team on three occasions. He was the Calder Trophy winner for Rookie of the Year in 2008 and in 2016 became the fifth player in Blackhawks history to win the Hart Trophy for league MVP.

Together with Jonathan Toews, he was a major part of the building of the Blackhawks’ franchise back to prominence after a decade of struggling to compete. The Blackhawks made nine-straight playoff appearances between 2009 and 2017 and rose to the top of the NHL.

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

On June 9, 2010, Kane’s overtime goal against the Flyers in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia gave the Blackhawks their first championship since 1961. He would be a big part of Stanley Cup runs in 2013 and 2015 as the franchise doubled its amount of titles in six years.

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

In the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Kane was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner for postseason MVP when he had nine goals and ten assists in 23 games. That included the series-clinching goal in overtime against the Kings in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals at the United Center.

Kane would finish off the Blackhawks’ run to the 2015 Stanley Cup title in Game 6 of the final against the Lightning when his goal gave the team some insurance in a 2-0 win. It was the first time the Blackhawks had won the championship on home ice since 1938.

During the 2015-2016 season, Kane had the best season of his NHL career, scoring a career-high 46 goals to go with 60 assists to capture the Hart Trophy. He was the first member of the Blackhawks to win the award since Stan Mikita in the 1967-1968 season.

(AP Photo/David Banks)

As the team’s fortunes declined over the past six seasons, Kane has still been productive as he’s taken on more of a leadership role on the team. In the 2018-2019 season, he had a career-high 110 points, and in that season along with the 2021-2022 campaign had 66 assists, the best so far in his 16 NHL seasons.

Kane’s 92 points in 2021-2022 were the third-most in his Blackhawks tenure.

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

In the 2022-2023 season, Kane has 16 goals and 29 assists in 54 games for a team that is in a full rebuild under new general manager Kyle Davidson. Speculation has been brewing since the summer that the forward could be traded to a contender, though Kane maintained control of where he went due to his no-trade clause.

Just before the trade, Kane had a strong offensive spurt in four games from February 17-22, scoring seven goals with three assists in four Blackhawks’ wins.