When Vladimir Tarasenko was considering his options as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, among the players he spoke to was Detroit Red Wings forward Patrick Kane.

Tarasenko and Kane briefly were teammates after being acquired by the New York Rangers before the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, so there was some familiarity there. And Tarasenko's wife, Yana, reached out to Kane's girlfriend, Amanda Grahovec. Kane signed a one-year contract to remain with the Red Wings on June 30 after playing for them last season, so he and Grahovec were able to tell the Tarasenkos about living in the Detroit suburbs as well as what it's like to play for the Red Wings.

It worked, with Tarasenko signing a two-year, $9.5 million contract ($4.75 million average annual value) with Detroit on July 3.

"I liked the way the team played last year," Tarasenko said Monday. "We decided with the family this is the best decision for us moving forward, and we are really excited about it."

Kane, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Chicago Blackhawks (2010, 2013, 2015), liked the idea of adding a proven veteran forward such as Tarasenko, who won the Stanley Cup last season with the Florida Panthers after winning it with the St. Louis Blues in 2019. The 32-year-old had 55 points (23 goals, 32 assists) in 76 regular-season games for the Panthers and Ottawa Senators last season including 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 19 games after he was acquired by the Panthers in a trade with the Senators on March 6.

"Obviously you get excited about that and then [Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman] called me as well, just asking about him as a player," Kane said. "I think he's going to be so good for the group. Obviously he's a proven winner, but just the way he plays, how hard he plays, I think a lot of players in general, not just young guys but the whole team will see how hard he works and how much effort he gives every shift and that's why he has a couple Stanley Cups to his name too."

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The Red Wings (41-32-9) fell just short of qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, losing out to the Washington Capitals for the second wild card from the Eastern Conference because of the regulation wins tiebreaker (32-27). But Kane and Tarasenko see the potential to end Detroit's eight-season postseason drought this season.

"I'm not a person who just comes and hangs out, enjoy my time and don't try to win," said Tarasenko, who had nine points (five goals, four assists) in 24 playoff games to help Florida win the Cup. "I really like winning. We just won a second Cup, but I will do everything I can to help the organization to take the next step. … That's the reason I come, because I like the way the team played and I believe this team can make the playoffs and do some special things."

Kane saw that firsthand last season, when he had 47 points (20 goals, 27 assists) in 50 games after signing a one-year, $2.75 million contract Nov. 28, following recovery from hip resurfacing surgery he had June 1, 2023. The 35-year-old forward believes he and the Red Wings can build on what they did last season.

"I think there's definitely expectations going into this season, so that's always a good thing," Kane said. "You want those expectations. You want, whether it's the fans or the media or just players in general, to expect the team and the organization to take the next steps. So, excited about being a part of that and hopefully getting a chance to have a good regular season and play playoff hockey again."

After playing his first 16 NHL seasons with Chicago, Kane quickly felt at home in Detroit, so he chose to re-sign hours before he was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

"For me, my heart was set on coming to Detroit and being back in Detroit," he said. "I thought it was a good fit last year. Love the team. We were really comfortable living there."

In addition to re-signing Kane and signing Tarasenko, Detroit signed goalies Cam Talbot (two years, $5 million) and Jack Campbell (one year, $775,000), forward Tyler Motte (one year, $800,000), and defenseman Erik Gustafsson (two years, $4 million), and re-signed forward Christian Fischer (one year, $1.125 million).

Fischer wanted to return to the Red Wings for similar reasons to Kane.

"I think the biggest thing is having the chance to build something with a really good group," said the 27-year-old, who had 19 points (five goals, 14 assists) n 79 games last season. "You look at having 'Kaner' back, a guy of that caliber, I know he had every team to choose from, and same with Tarasenko. Almost every guy that we signed, they're going to have options and it's nice to have them choose us and see the same thing that I see."

Kane and Tarasenko mostly have been rivals during their careers, with Tarasenko playing his first 11 seasons with the Blues, a frequent Central Division rival of Kane and the Blackhawks. So the idea of potentially playing on the same line, something they didn’t get to do with the Rangers, is appealing.

"It would be amazing," Tarasenko said. "We played against each other for so many years, and if somebody told me at that time we would play together as a line, I would be like, 'There is no way.'"

Said Kane, "I think it would be a good fit. I know we both are natural right wingers, kind of left-handed shots playing the off side, but I think when you're playing hockey it doesn't really matter what position you're in. So one of us would have to make a move, but I think it would be a good fit."

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