Buffalo Sabres: Why the Time is Right to Deal Evander Kane

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 25: Evander Kane
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 25: Evander Kane /

With the reported rumor of the Vancouver Canucks inquiring about Evander Kane for Ben Hutton and Nikolay Goldobin, this may be the perfect storm for the Buffalo Sabres.

Raise your hand if you’ve heard this before: Evander Kane is involved in a trade rumor. The 26-year-old forward is one of the few bright spots on a Buffalo Sabres squad that has underperformed thus far.

Mark Easson of MyNHLTradeRumors.com reported:

"“The Canucks and Sabres talked a lot about Evander Kane. Ben Huttons’s name came up in those talks. Would Hutton and Nikolay Goldobin interest the Sabres?”"

If you recall, the rumors of Kane shipping off to Vancouver first surfaced a year ago. At the time, he was embroiled in a plethora of legal issues stemming from various alleged physical altercations in Buffalo.

All in all, there were serious conversations between the sides, but, according to Elliote Friedman: “The word is Vancouver was not willing to pay the price Buffalo was asking.”

Despite the torrid start, I’m all for the Sabres’ brass to pull the trigger. First of all, Kane’s trade value is at an all-time high.

Things have been fairly quiet for the winger off the ice; has he finally matured and avoided trouble, or is this just the eye of the storm? I’d love to believe it’s the former, but Kane’s history leaves me treading cautiously.

Entering Tuesday’s games, Kane leads the team in goals (six) and is tied for the lead in points (11). While there’s no denying his offensive prowess, there is no reason to believe he will maintain this explosive pace.

Last year, his 28 goals were a career high in his eighth full year in the NHL. You could argue that he hasn’t played a full season is the reason; with that, I bring you to my next reason: durability.

Entering his ninth season in the NHL, Kane has only reached 70 games, three times in his career. He’s had various injuries, most recently causing him to miss the last nine games of last season. Known as a power forward, Kane’s physical style of play would suggest his overall health will be in question with each passing year.

Finally, Kane is set to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.  The Buffalo Sabres have approximately $57 million tied up in 15 players for the 2018-19 season, leaving them about $20 million in cap space.

Seeing the Sabres have some holes to fill next season, most notably the priority of signing a goaltender, Kane may handcuff them. Most likely, he will command a notable raise, thus eating up more than the $6 million base salary he is making. Buffalo would have to rely on more youth and buy low candidates, or get creative financially to field a full, competitive team next year.

Finally, the haul coming back from the west is pretty impressive. Ben Hutton, a left-handed defenseman, is in his third year.

Hutton is very mobile, puck moving defenseman, making $2.8 million. He would add another top 6 blue liner capable of starting a rush, as well as becoming an asset in the defensive end, using his wide frame to clear out the opposition.

More from Buffalo Sabres

Nikolay Goldobin, at just 22-years-old, is a former 27th overall pick who amazed in this preseason but is mired in the AHL, still refining his skills. He has played 23 games in the NHL over three seasons with the San Jose Sharks and Canucks.

Goldobin has raw offensive talent with superb passing and a booming, accurate shot. His defensive work has greatly improved and will only get better.

While this may not be a popular opinion based on the overall talent of Kane, I believe the time is right for the Buffalo Sabres to make this deal. There is something to be said of someone who has superior offensive talent, but you can argue that some of the Sabres’ struggles have come due to their defensive lapses.

Unfortunately, Kane has been consistently poor in that aspect of his game, as evidenced with his second-worst plus/minus of -17 on the team, and career -41. If you can add a major league top 6 (possibly top 4) young, cheap defenseman with tons of upside, I’m all in. After all, they are a premium; look no further than north of the border…..right, Toronto?!

Next: Will Bruins win serve as turning point?

What would you do in the Buffalo Sabres’ position? Do you agree with Tony Roasti, that they should trade Evander Kane? Or do you believe they should attempt to re-sign him to a long-term deal? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.