Buffalo Sabres: Evander Kane needs to stick around long-term

SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 12: Evander Kane
SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 12: Evander Kane /

As the NHL trade deadline draws closer, Evander Kane’s future will once again be in question, but the Buffalo Sabres need to resolve the matter soon and ensure he sticks around.

It’s fair to say the 2017-18 campaign hasn’t started quite how the Buffalo Sabres and their fans envisioned. Yes, it’s still early, but four points through seven games has them once again near the bottom of the standings.

One of the few brights spots has been the form of Evander Kane, who leads the team in goals and overall points. He’s working as hard as ever and is doing his best to inspire his teammates to greater heights.

Nowhere was this more evident, than in the part Kane played in dragging the Sabre back from a 4-1 deficit in the third period against the Knights. Although the team ultimately lost in overtime, his refusal to give in led to three points and — hopefully — something the other players can draw encouragement from.

Kane is also leading the Sabres in penalty minutes, but that’s just par the course, with his physical intimidation being a key aspect of his game. All in all, he’s showing the kind of form you would expect from a player who was drafted fourth overall.

With this in mind, thoughts once again turn to the winger’s future in Western New York. No doubt a lot of hockey analysts and fans alike, will insist the Sabres need to trade him.

There are a couple of reasons for this rationale, the first being that Kane’s value is arguably at an all-time high. In addition, he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

When discussing this matter previously, we were of the opinion that no matter what the Buffalo Sabres decided to do, there would be some regret. And while this may still be the case, we’re now leaning towards believing they should do their best to keep Kane around for the long-term.

As mentioned, the Vancouver native’s talent is a major reason why. If he’s now able to produce more consistently on the ice, it’s going to be tough for the Sabres to find someone of a similar level.

However, just as important, Kane is now showing more maturity, and not just in staying away from trouble off the ice. He also appears to be evolving into a leader, serving as a mentor to the younger players.

In this respect, the overriding sentiment is Kane’s teammates enjoy having him around. In particular, Jack Eichel has formed a close friendship with him and we know how much the Sabres want to keep that guy happy!

However,  while all this is great, it will also come down to what Kane himself wants to do? Is he happy in Buffalo and does he want to stay past this season?

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The only way to find out, is to approach the 26-year-old about a contract extension sooner than later. Of course, it depends on if the organisation themselves want him to stick around – are they convinced he is a changed man, who will stay out of trouble?

As is often the case, it’s tough to know at this juncture. All we can do, is go on any speculation that is out there.

Along those lines, Darren Dreger discussed Kane’s future earlier this week, on TSN. Dreger indicated the Buffalo Sabres aren’t interested in trading him at the moment, unless they are blown away by an offer.

Essentially, general manager Jason Botterill is willing to listen to offers. However, Dreger doesn’t believe this issue will be resolved until we get close to the trade deadline on Feb. 26.

As far as we’re concerned, Botterill and the rest of the front office need to use the next few months to approach Kane and ask him what he wants to do. If he would like to remain in Buffalo, they need to negotiate a contract extension as soon as possible.

Next: What has happened to Alex Nylander?

What would you do in the Buffalo Sabres’ situation? Trade Kane or negotiate a contract extension, and why? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.