Buffalo Sabres: Should Evander Kane stay or go?

BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 5: Evander Kane
BUFFALO, NY - OCTOBER 5: Evander Kane /

There’s no doubt Evander Kane is the top performer for the Buffalo Sabres this season, but the question remains of whether or not he should be traded?

The Buffalo Sabres currently sits dead last in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference standings. The blue and gold sit just one point above the Arizona Coyotes in the NHL, with 14 points.

One of the biggest reasons the Sabres have their five victories, is because of the play of Evander Kane. Even when Buffalo is down, Kane still finds ways to put in the effort to keep his team in the contest.

The former Winnipeg Jet has 12 goals and nine assists for a total of 21 points so far in the campaign. Those totals haven’t come without the pure determination of the Sabres’ number 9 either.

In Buffalo’s last five games, Kane has three goals and one assist. The 26-year-old took an impressive feed from Ryan O’Reilly against the Carolina Hurricanes earlier this week. Kane used his blistering pace to squeeze the puck past Scott Darling, for his 11th bulge of net this season.

Kane’s advanced stats indicate his elite level of play. The product of the Vancouver Giants has a 96.9 PDO percentage at even strength, meaning he’s shooting just right based off of opponent’s save percentage. With just a bit more luck, the winger could easily be at 15+ goals right now.

Buffalo doesn’t really possess the puck that often, but Kane’s near 50 percent CF percentage (Corsi For) means the Sabres usually have the puck when he hits the ice.

Kaner is top three in shots, number one in short-handed goals, and in the top 10 for goals created this season.

Before Kane’s great start to the season even started, rumors lurked around the Vancouver native as a potential trade candidate.

Buffalo Sabres GM Jason Botterill indicates he’s in no rush to get rid of his top scorer. TSN Analyst Darren Dreger believes Botterill’s stance may be true, according to Bleacher Report.

"“My understanding is that he and Phil Housley, the coach now of the Sabres, have a pretty good bond developing there,” Dreger said. “They connected relatively early.”"

At 26, the winger is going to entering the prime of his career as his stats indicate. Teams that could be contending for the playoffs or the Stanley Cup come January, will be calling Buffalo to see what needs to be done for a deal.

Both the Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues have been reported to be in on Kane. It was also reported that Buffalo’s scout were seen attending one of Rockford’s games (Hawks’ AHL affiliate), per John Jaeckel:

Would offloading Kane be the right move for the Sabres? The move would likely be determined by whether they are a team to contend in the next year or two, or instead thinking years down the line.

If Buffalo is thinking of contending sooner, keeping Kane would be the best option. Having a top winger in his prime is never a bad thing. Plus, the Sabres need more defensively and in net.

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The only problem is Kane is in the final year of his contract. The Sabres don’t know how much money he would potentially ask for, or if he’d test free agency, meaning they would get no return.

This would lead to Buffalo thinking of trading him by the deadline. The winger would not want to go to a team towards the bottom of the standings, meaning he’d go to a cup-contender. Furthermore, the top clubs are not going to deal their top players, meaning the Sabres would get a prospect in return.

Is a prospect enough for what Kane has to offer?

At the moment, Buffalo finds themselves in a tough spot. Nothing comes to surface regarding Kane’s status at the club. As Kane continues to perform, the chances only increase that he’ll be with a different team once the deadline hits.

Next: Positive steps for Zach Bogosian

Do the Buffalo Sabres keep or trade Kane? Any other players worth trading instead? Should the Sabres keep quiet once the deadline hits? Let us know in the comments below.