Buffalo Sabres: How likely is a Evander Kane trade to the Kings?

Dec 13, 2016; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane (9) during the game against the Los Angeles Kings at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 13, 2016; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Evander Kane (9) during the game against the Los Angeles Kings at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports /

The Los Angeles Kings are reportedly interested in Evander Kane, but how realistic is it to expect the Buffalo Sabres to trade the winger?

The Buffalo Sabres have reached a crucial point in the history of the franchise. After six seasons without playoff hockey, combined with a new general manager and — yet to be named — head coach, the 2017/18 campaign will arguably be the most important in quite some time.

Despite having some excellent talent on the roster, Jason Botterill still has plenty of key decisions to make during the offseason. This includes deciding what to do about Evander Kane.

In many respects, whatever path the Sabres take with the mercurial winger, there will likely be some regret. For all Kane’s undoubted talent, there are still questions about his maturity and ability to stay out of trouble off the ice.

Further, the fact the Vancouver native led the Sabres in goals this past campaign, is countered by concerns about his practice habits. In any event, Botterill could be set to decide once and for all whether or not to keep him on the team next season.

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That’s because, as reported by WGR550‘s Brayton Wilson, the Los Angeles Kings are apparently interested in the services of Kane. The possibility was first raised by Elliotte Friedman, during a segment this past Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada.

According to Friedman, the Kings are among the teams interested in acquiring Kane. The Sportsnet reporter went on to say he believes the Sabres would be willing to make the move.

Of course, it’s one thing to say both sides are interested in making a trade, but it’s another thing to actually make it happen. As always, money will play a big part.

Kane’s cap hit for 2017-18 is $5.25 million while, according to CapFriendly.com, the Kings currently have $9.2 million available. In theory, that means they have the space, but would understandably like some more room, with players currently on their roster to consider.

The Kings will receive some assistance, when the Vegas Golden Knight select one of their players in the upcoming expansion draft. And the situation can be improved further, depending on if and who they can send to Buffalo.

As for the Sabres, who (and/or what) they can realistically get in return could prove secondary to the actual gamble of cutting ties with Kane. Do they really want to let a player who gives his all on the ice leave, especially after a campaign where he finally seems headed in the right direction, with the second-most points of his NHL career?

Further, is Botterill convinced the 2009 fourth overall draft pick has finally turned over a new leaf off the ice? Or was he simply staying out of trouble, until the outstanding charges against him were dropped at the end of April?

Another factor to consider, is Kane’s own willingness to stick around in Western New York for the long-term. Next season will represent the final year of his current contract.

Is the 25-year old, who is just entering the prime of his career, willing to sign a contract extension with the Sabres? Does he believe the franchise represents his best option to play for a contender moving forward?

Ultimately, no matter what Botterill and the Sabres do, they will be risking criticism from fans and media alike. Essentially, they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t, but it will certainly be interesting to follow this storyline as we progress through the offseason.

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What’s your position on the latest speculation involving Kane? How likely are the Sabres to trade him? Do you even want to see him moved before next season? Share your thoughts in the comments section.