No matter what decision the Buffalo Sabres make regarding Evander Kane, the reality is they’re taking a gamble with the mercurial talent.
In many ways, deciding what to do with Evander Kane comes down to your perspective, i.e. are you an optimist or a realist? This is because the reality of the situation for the Buffalo Sabres is there is no easy answer when it comes to determining the future of this mercurial talent.
Don’t believe us? Let’s consider the positive and negative when it comes to analyzing Kane.
For a start, there’s no denying the 2009 fourth overall draft pick has excellent talent, to go along with a physical presence. However, this is countered by his lack of maturity, best exemplified by his off-ice issues, which could ultimately compromise the ability to take full advantage of his skill set.
Then there is Kane’s production, which this last season saw him finish with the second-most goals and overall points of his career. And yet, questions remain about if he will ever return to the form which saw him finish with 57 points during the 2011-12 campaign.
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Sticking with goals, the Vancouver, British Columbia native scored 28 times in his final 58 games, good enough to lead the Sabres on the season. However, this is once again countered by questions about his consistency, after scoring none during his first 12 appearances of the campaign.
(In fairness, Kane arguably needed time to get up to speed. He missing 12 games with three cracked ribs, which he sustained in the season opener, against the Montreal Canadiens.)
You also have to consider the pratice habits of the winger. As reported by John Vogl of The Buffalo News, he is in the fortunate position of not having to put in as much preparation before games, compared to the average hockey player.
"“I don’t warm up, like off the ice,” Kane said. “Everybody has their own type of preparation, and from an early age I’ve kind of found what works for me and what doesn’t. I’m probably not the typical hockey player in terms of how I prepare, but it’s more mental. It goes back to on-ice performance because at the end of the day that’s what you’re judged on.”"
However, as the Sabres attempt to bond and build team chemistry, Kane’s work ethic doesn’t set the best example. He is renowned for often being the first player off the ice after practice and games.
With all this said, the Sabres have the unenviable task of making the correct call with the former Winnipeg Jet. This decision takes on added urgency, when factoring in that he only has one year left on his contract.
Does Tim Murray attempt to trade Kane during the offseason, and take advantage of his current high value? Or does the Sabres’ general manager assume this past season is the sign of more consistency, and look to negotiate a contract extension?
If the 2009 WHL West First All-Star goes elsewhere and continues to produce, the Sabres will regret letting him leave. However, if he is signed to a new deal and then returns to his controversial off-ice behavior, they will be stuck with him.
Ultimately, no matter what Murray and the Sabres do, they will be taking a calculated risk with Kane. Certainly, it’s a decision that not many people will envy.
We assume Sabres’ fans are similarly conflicted with what to do in respect of Kane. Regardless, if you were in Tim Murray’s shoes, what would you do and why? Share your thoughts in the comments section.