Buffalo Sabres: The case to trade Evander Kane

The Buffalo Sabres are really bad... again. It's time for Jason Botterill to explore his options, and rebuild.

Buffalo Sabres: The case to trade Evander Kane
Evander Kane has been at the focal point of trade talks for the Buffalo Sabres (Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Buffalo Sabres are 8-19-7 with 23 points through 34 games which places them second to last place in the NHL ahead of the Arizona Coyotes. Buffalo was projected to make the playoffs, and be a dark horse for potential upsets, but that has not come to fruition. Buffalo has really struggled this season, and it's time for them to look for trading partners. 

Trade someone

The Buffalo Sabres are bad like really, really bad. They are so bad that they are projected to be almost as terrible as their first "tanking" season in 2013/14 where they only attained 52 points and lost 51 games. It's time for GM Jason Botterill to do something.

There have been many rumors revolving around the Sabres, but with the holiday roster freeze, fans and media may have to wait for Buffalo to make any news on the trading front. Buffalo desperately needs to take advantage of the talks that are intensifying around the team to help franchise centerpiece Jack Eichel get some offensive help. 

Former GM Tim Murray did a fantastic job of helping Buffalo tank, and get some very good young pieces to help develop this team, but if there is one area Murray struggled with it was getting Buffalo good players to build around the younger, developing stars.

For this reason, among others, was why he was fired. 

Botterill has to get this team offensive help. The Sabres have a -45 goal differential because this team just can't seem to score. Eichel and Evander Kane are carrying this team right now, but they can only do so much. 

It's time for Botterill to do something, and that may involve trading Kane. 

It's time to trade Kane

According to TSN's own Bob McKenzie, talks involving Kane were intensifying right before the holiday roster freeze with the San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Anaheim Ducks, and possibly the Calgary Flames but it was unconfirmed if the Flames were in the mix.

Buffalo was unable to pull the trigger because they were looking for more than a first-round pick, a prospect, and a conditional pick. 

Kane's contract is expiring after this season, and when he hits free agency he will look to get a sizeable raise from his current contract worth $5.25 million. He is considered to be the best possible free agent left wing on the market, and Buffalo should not squander this opportunity to get something for Kane before they lose him for nothing. 

Through 34 games this season, Evander Kane has 31 points (14 G, 17 A) with eight of those points coming on the powerplay. Known as an injury-prone underachieving player, he is on pace to have the best year of his career. 

Buffalo is most likely not going to make the playoffs unless something truly dramatic happens, so that makes Kane a prime contender for a deadline deal. He would make a great addition to a Cup contender, and especially if that team has cap space. 

Botterill has to make something happen so they don't lose out when Kane decides to walk if they can't get a deal done. The writing was on the wall when Murray traded no one at last years trade deadline, so Botterill needs to make something happen. 

Possible suitors for Kane

According to Elliotte Friedman, Buffalo will be looking for more than what the Winnipeg Jets received for Andrew Ladd (which was Marko Dano and a first) and the Arizona Coyotes got for Martin Hanzal (trade included Ryan White, Arizona got a first, second, and fourth-round picks.) Kane should garner more than Hanzal and Ladd because he is a better player than they both were at that time. 

Let's discuss the teams that seem most likely to try to go after Kane. They are the San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Anaheim Ducks, and possibly the Calgary Flames, as I stated earlier. 

The Sharks have lost their scoring touch this season dipping to 24th overall, but San Jose GM Doug Wilson stated that he isn't looking to trade younger players for a quick fix this season. 

The Blues have lost Robby Fabbri to a season-ending knee injury, and winger Jaden Schwartz is out for several weeks due to an ankle injury. With the loss of these two powerhouses to their offense, the Blues may consider going after Kane. The Blues are among one of the best teams in the NHL so it may be a long shot, but a good trade is a good trade. 

The Ducks did recently trade for Adam Henrique, but with Corey Perry week-to-week with a lower-body injury, Anaheim may leap at the chance to acquire Kane. Anaheim is currently near the bottom in the Western Conference with a 14-13-8 record, so a boost from a high powered winger in Kane may help them. 

It's interesting that the Flames are on this list because they have Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk in their top-six, and Sam Bennett is starting to carve out his role on the team, so it's a head-scratcher as to why the Flames may want Kane. The Flames are third in the Pacific Division and are having a pretty decent season. 

But, like the Sabres, the Flames can't sustain offensive production. They have a -4 goal differential this season and are just barely scraping by in the Western Conference. 

Even though Calgary is struggling, setting their sights on acquiring Kane is still strange. Kane would struggle to find a role on the team, may be relied upon less, and may not even be in the top-six. 

With that said, as we inch closer and closer to the trade deadline on February 26th, the suitors for Kane should grow if he keeps up his fast start. 

Possible return for Kane

What Buffalo is asking for is currently unknown at this time, but Botterill does want more than a first-rounder, a prospect, and a conditional draft pick. It's also unknown what the trading market is like for a player of Kane's caliber because the market hasn't been set yet to definitively say what the Sabres could expect in return.

With Botterill asking for more than what players like Kane have garnered in years past may be a tricky buy. If Kane is able to stay hot, Botterill should sit until the trade deadline when almost all 30 teams will be calling to inquire about him. Botterill does need a backup plan though if Kane's numbers decline and he becomes inconsistent again. 

Final thoughts 

No one expected Buffalo's season to be this truly terrible. Sitting in last in the Eastern Conference, they can't score, they have no identity, and they just are playing terrible hockey. Botterill needs to fix the problems that Murray left behind for him, and one way to do that may be by trading Evander Kane. 

Kane is on pace to have a career year and he is entering the last year of his deal, so Botterill needs to move him before Buffalo loses him for nothing. I don't see Kane wanting to resign here because Buffalo seems to be another two to three years away from making the playoffs, or at the very least not squeaking by to get a wild-card spot in the East. 

There are a handful of teams that are interested in Kane right now, but if Kane stays hot all the way up until the trade deadline, Botterill's phone will most likely be ringing off the hook from many of the 30 teams wondering about Kane's availability. 

Buffalo is hoping that Kane can give them a nice, hefty return, unlike players, have in years past that have been in Kane's position for other teams. If Botterill can work his magic like he did in Pittsburgh, and set up Buffalo for the future then that's the way to go instead of keeping the 26-year-old Kane. 

With Buffalo on the decline, and Kane's contract expiring in July, now is the perfect time to trade Evander Kane. 

Tell us your thoughts on a possible trade for Evander Kane. Would you trade him? Let us know in the comments section below.