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Things are good in Hockeytown these days. The Detroit Red Wings are third in the Atlantic Division and they just added future Hall of Fame forward Patrick Kane -- but will he be enough to put them over the top in a competitive Eastern Conference?

Kane has an impressive resume that includes three Stanley Cup rings and a Hart Trophy. He joins a Red Wings team that, on the surface, looks like one of the teams to beat in the East. That sounds like an excellent fit, but there are some lingering questions as Kane and the Wings try to take a step toward Cup contention this season.

For starters, how much does a 35-year-old winger coming off a rare hip resurfacing procedure have left in the tank? Kane is one of the best playmakers in the game when he's at his best, but that hasn't been the case for a few years now. Outside of Kane, a peek at Detroit's underlying numbers raises red flags regarding the sustainability of this strong start.

So, let's take a look at what the Red Wings need offensively, as well as what they can realistically expect from Kane.

What do the Red Wings need?

Right now, the Red Wings rank second in the NHL with 96 goals scored through just 25 games. Their offense seems to be firing on all cylinders, so why would they need a player like Kane to boost what appears to be a strength?

Well, Detroit's early offensive success doesn't exactly look like it's built on a sound process. The team is struggling to get dangerous scoring chances, especially from the slot, and an inflated shooting percentage has plastered over some of those problems under the hood. The team's five-on-five expected goals numbers are especially troubling.

Data courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.

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The Red Wings are struggling to create dangerous scoring chances in all situations, but that's especially the case at five-on-five. Detroit has some skilled skaters in its forward group, and it wouldn't necessarily be surprising to see Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Larkin, or Lucas Raymond outpace their expected goal numbers to a certain degree. They can -- and do -- make the most of the scoring chances they get.

More skepticism develops when looking at strong starts from depth players like Robby Fabbri and J.T. Compher. The latter has eight goals on 20 shots this season, which is good for a 40.0% shooting percentage and is roughly 25 points above Fabbri's career average. Compher's numbers aren't quite that extreme, but he is still shooting 19.4% with a career average of 13.1%.

It's fair to wonder how those two can keep their shooting percentages well above average, especially on a team that ranks near the bottom of the league when it comes to creating slot shots.

The hope in Detroit is that Kane can return to anything resembling full strength. When Kane is rolling, he has elite vision and lethal playmaking ability. The trouble there is that Kane hasn't displayed that level of play in a couple of years.

What can Patrick Kane provide?

In his heyday, Kane was a magician in the offensive zone. He could freeze defenders and find an open lane to pass or shoot. It was a thing of beauty. And if the Red Wings need help getting pucks into scoring areas, it couldn't hurt to have Kane in the lineup.

Exactly how much Kane can help is still up in the air. Players don't often improve after hip surgery at the age of 35, and Kane's play appeared to be slipping a bit even before the injury started exacting a huge toll on him.

Last season, Kane's production and underlying numbers completely fell off a cliff. He scored 21 goals and added 36 assists in 73 games, which marked his lowest per-game totals by a wide margin. At five-on-five, the Blackhawks got shelled with Kane on the ice, and those metrics didn't improve much after he joined a more talented New York Rangers lineup.

In all fairness, the Red Wings probably didn't assume they were signing the 2022-23 version of Kane. Based on what Kane has said about his hip injury, he was essentially skating on one leg last year, and the hip resurfacing has restored full mobility. That alone should be enough for a slight bump in his 2023-24 performance.

Taking that into account, let's look at the 2021-22 campaign, which was the last time Kane looked like he was close to full health. That season, he led the Blackhawks with 92 points in 78 games and had strong chemistry with Alex DeBrincat. The traditional counting stats were strong, and Kane was one of the best distributors in the NHL.

Kane's 2.33 assists/60 ranked 17th in the league, and his 3.24 points/60 ranked 40th, per Natural Stat Trick. Chicago still failed to break even when Kane was in the game at five-on-five, but his 2021-22 expected goals share (46.5%) was far better than it was in 2022-23 (38.4%).

Maybe insulating him with more defensive chops will help in that department, but Detroit hasn't exactly been great in its own end this year. Lucas Raymond, who has made some positive strides in his play away from the puck, might be worth a shot on Kane's opposite wing.

If Detroit gets something closer to the 2021-22 version of Kane, the team will get the type of playmaker it desperately needs to help generate five-on-five offense more consistently.

The big question

The Red Wings need an injection of playmaking ability, and Kane has shown the ability to do that at a high level. The biggest unknown remaining in this equation is how much Kane's sharp decline last season was due solely to the hip injury and how much was due to Father Time doing what he does.

Even if the injury was the problem, there isn't exactly a long list of NHL players who have undergone hip resurfacing and had a lot of success afterward. Ryan Kesler never played again after getting it done, and Nicklas Backstrom had to step away from the game last month after attempting to make a comeback.

Kane and the Red Wings are both rolling the dice this season. Kane wants to show he still has a lot of winning left to do, and the Red Wings want to return to their former glory. Each side has a lot of proving to do over the next 56 games.