Buffalo Sabres: Should They Be Interested in Evander Kane?


In the past few days, the seemingly ever-present rumors about Evander Kane moving on from the Winnipeg Jets have hit a fever pitch once again. 

After going on Team 1040 in Vancouver, via Illegal Curve, on Tuesday, Kane seemed to all but demand a trade from Manitoba. After being asked if he wanted to be a Winnipeg Jet, Kane acknowledged the constant speculation and said he would “carry on as if he were a Jet.”

Not the answer pro-Kane Jet fans wanted to hear. 

So, as one could expect, Kane’s name has flooded the Twittersphere, and the rampant speculation has begun once again. So, the question is whether or not Tim Murray and the Buffalo Sabres are interested.

The answer is simple: yes. 

This is not your run-of-the-mill aging superstar trade. This is a trade that will net you a 22-year old 30-goal scorer, who is locked up at a relatively cheap $5.25 million cap hit through the 2017-18 season, per CapGeek

The price will be very high, as acknowledged by Craig Custance of ESPN, but there is some recent history that shows that a deal like this can happen.

Last year, Tyler Seguin was traded to the Dallas Stars from the Boston Bruins for a package that included veteran top-six winger Loui Eriksson and three prospects, namely Reilly Smith who scored 20 goals for the Bruins this season. 

Like Kane, Seguin was not portrayed well in the media during the end of his time with the Bruins. He had his dedication put in to question numerous times, including by his general manager Peter Chiarelli, and some even questioned how much better he could get. 

This past season Seguin excelled playing with Jamie Benn in Dallas, scoring 37 goals and 84 points in 80 games. He showed that a change of scenery was exactly what he needed. 

Kane could be in a very similar position. 

There was the lawsuit in Vancouver that claimed he assaulted a man. There were also the claims that he skipped out on bills at restaurants in Winnipeg. Don’t forget the money phone picture in Vegas. Or how Winnipeg Free Press columnist Gary Lawless has essentially tried to trade Kane since 2012.

But the reality of the situation is Kane was under the legal drinking age for most of these incidents. As many said with Seguin, he is young and has a lot to learn. It’s not an excuse for his behavior. It’s more of a audible hope that he will grow out of it at some point. 

Yet, despite his alleged off-ice issues, he is the exact type of player the Sabres could use to jump to the next level. 

Putting him next to Sam Reinhart not only gives him the type of playmaker he’s never been able to play with in Winnipeg, but it also gives the Sabres two-thirds of what could be one of the most potent lines in the NHL for years to come.

If one of the sizable wingers the Sabres have in the pipeline─see Joel Armia, Hudson Fasching, Justin Bailey or Nick Baptiste─hit their 30-goal potential, watch out. 

Now, this is assuming Kane puts it all together and reaches the assumed potential being drafted fourth overall will create, but the thought should make any Sabres fan excited. 

But no matter how you envision Kane slotting in among the Sabres’ top line, you have to at least acknowledge the small fortune it will cost to land him.

Given the blockbuster nature of any trade involving Kane, the speculation is predictably rampant. You will likely see or hear many “how about X, Y and a first” proposals floating around, but one has to assume the starting point for Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is the Seguin haul Boston received. 

What’s a basic translation of what Boston received? A top-six winger (Loui Eriksson), a top-end prospect (Reilly Smith), a potential top-four two-way defenseman (Joe Morrow) and a bottom-six forward (Matt Fraser).

One important factor to consider though is Dallas also received Rich Peverley, a solid third-line center, and Ryan Button, a defensive prospect who split time between the AHL and ECHL last year. 

Looking at the whole of that trade, it seems the price for Kane alone would be something like a top-six forward, a top-end prospect and a mid-level prospect or draft pick. 

There has been a lot of unsubstantiated chatter that the Jets would be keen on Tyler Myers, and adding him to any potential deal would essentially eliminate the need to add any more prized pieces.

Looking at the Jets’ roster, that just doesn’t seem to meld with reality. 

The Jets have a solid young core on defense, led by Jacob Trouba and Zach Bogosian. Josh Morrissey should be arriving soon as well, so the premium many believe some teams place on Myers likely doesn’t exist in the Winnipeg organization. 

This is not to say that the Jets would not accept Myers as a piece, but a straight-up trade is highly unlikely. 

But high price or not, Kane’s potential on the wing with Reinhart would be worth it. As Murray has said multiple times, every prospect in the Sabres system will not stay a Sabre forever. Some will be moved for guys like Kane, and that’s a wonderful way to use the assets you have amassed. 

Tim Murray has shown that he is willing to make the splashy move by shipping guys out, but can he swing the deal to bring a guy like Kane in?

Expect to hear the Sabres mentioned in Kane talks until the time he is traded, or the Jets and Kane commit to each other. But Sabres fans should welcome this speculation because Kane would be a huge step forward for the club and a huge piece in Sam Reinhart‘s development. 

Realistically, the Sabres will be mentioned in most situations where a young player with talent may be moved because of their prospect pool and stockpile of picks, but Kane, and the possibly available Ryan O’Reilly according to Adrian Dater of the Denver Post, should be on the top of their list.

Unless you want Connor McDavid instead.  

Follow me on Twitter for NHL and Sabres news all offseason: @SwordPlay18


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