Buffalo Sabres: Deadline Approaching for Decision on Evander Kane

Feb 7, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane (9) celebrates his goal against the San Jose Sharks during the third period at KeyBank Center. Sabres beat the Sharks 5-4 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 7, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane (9) celebrates his goal against the San Jose Sharks during the third period at KeyBank Center. Sabres beat the Sharks 5-4 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports /

With the trade deadline fast approaching, the Buffalo Sabres are caught between a rock and a hard place with Evander Kane.

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before – the Buffalo Sabres are considering trading Evander Kane. However, we’re now at the stage where time is running out to make a decision, with the March 1st trade deadline looming.

The Sabres have been contemplating moving Kane ever since he was accused of physically harassing people at a downtown bar last June. Having previously been investigated for committing a sexual offense at a local downtown hotel (no charges were ever filed), it continued a pattern which first developed in Winnipeg, of his penchant to attract trouble.

Unfortunately for the Sabres, any attempts to trade the mercurial winger, were compromised after he suffered three cracked ribs in the opening game of the season. Then when he returned in November, he struggled to make an impact with just two points (both assists) in nine games.

Since then, however, Kane has developed into a significant threat for the Sabres, with 26 points in 33 games. He’s one goal behind Kyle Okposo for the team-lead and is on course for his most points since the 2013-14 season.

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In addition, the 2009 fourth overall draft pick has been a model citizen off the ice. As a result, he’s now become the hot trade commodity the Sabres were looking for – and therein lies the problem.

Do you move a player who appears to be rejuvenated and finally living up to his undoubted potential? Or do you keep hold of him, in the hope that he’s now ready to perform on a more consistent basis and be part of a promising future in Buffalo?

Of course, making Kane part of the Sabres organization long-term, would involve negotiating a new deal. As things stand, his current contract will run out at the conclusion of the 2017-18 campaign.

The Vancouver, British Columbia native’s deal is worth $6 million per season, but is he worth more? Whether he is or not, you know he — and his agent — will be looking for a pay rise.

At this point, the Sabres have to decide if they can justify such a move, while wondering in the back of their minds whether he really is a changed man. At the risk of playing devils advocate, he only has to remain on his best behavior until April, when his harassment and trespassing charges will be dropped.

Another more tenuous factor which plays a part in this whole scenario, is the Sabres’ playoff challenge. Going into Saturday night’s action, they are six points out of eighth spot in the East, with 28 games remaining.

In that respect, the Sabres’ position in the standings will be key, come March 1st. How realistic their playoff push is at the point, will influence what they do with Kane.

Taking all of this into account, it appears a lot of people involved with the NHL are similarly unsure of what the Sabres will do. This includes ESPN’s Craig Custance, who appeared on WGR550 on Friday morning.

Speaking to Howard Simon and Jeremy White, Custance said: “I still think there’s a little bit of a wait and see attitude (in Buffalo). I’m not sure if anyone is sure of what direction the Sabres are going to go.

“They’re in the same position as a lot of teams are, especially in the (Eastern Conference). You wanna give your team as much of a chance heading into the deadline to actually make a little bit of a run and make things interesting.”

As far as Custance is concerned though, the Sabres have to seriously consider moving Kane: “I don’t think the Sabres are in a position to not listen on guys.

“They need a defenseman. If there’s a trade to be made and Evander Kane is what it’s going to take to get that defenseman, I think you at least listen to that conversation.”

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One person with a more pragmatic take on the Kane issue, is TSN’s Darren Dreger. He appeared on “The Instigators” on Friday with Andrew Peters and Martin Biron, to discuss general manager Tim Murray’s approach.

Dreger said: “Tim Murray has a job to do as general manager of the Buffalo Sabres and that job is to make the Sabres a better team. If there is something out there that requires Evander Kane to be part of a package that makes Buffalo better, then obviously he’s going to consider that and make that deal.”

If you’re looking for a clue from Murray himself about what he will do with Kane, it doesn’t become any clearer. As reported by Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News, consider the general manager’s comments on Thursday, during his weekly interview on WGR550.

Murray said: “The off-ice stuff, we’ve worked through that and we continue to work with him. It will never be forgotten obviously, nor do we want to forget. You learn from mistakes. But on the ice, what I see now is what we traded for I think. I’m a fan of his game.”

Whether Murray is enough of a fan to keep Kane around, remains to be seen. We’ll find out sometime between now and March 1st.

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What would you do with Kane? Are you influenced by if the Sabres are challenging at the trade deadline, or do you want to move him regardless? Or would you like to see the winger negotiate a new deal and stay in Buffalo long-term? Share your thoughts in the comments section.