The Buffalo Sabres have shot to the top of at least one set of rankings – TSN’s Hockey Trade Bait List. Here we go again!
Now that the drama surrounding Matt Duchene has been resolved, the Buffalo Sabres can finally brag about being No. 1 somewhere: TSN’s Hockey Trade Bait List, where Evander Kane is currently listed as the player most likely to get traded between now and the February 26 NHL trade deadline.
There may be some pockets of fans who would like to see Kane get shipped out of town, mostly because these fans still view Kane as a threat to national security, or something like that. Not to excuse the man’s past transgressions, but he has not been a problem for the Buffalo Sabres on or off the ice for over a year, and shows no signs of becoming a distraction any time soon.
Kane was Buffalo’s leading goal-scorer last season, finding the back of the net 28 times despite playing for one of the league’s worst teams. Even better, Kane is Buffalo’s overall scoring leader this season, with nine goals (best on team) and a team-high 15 points.
So trade him while his value is sky-high, right? Maybe bring in a first-round draft pick and . . . hold on. Hasn’t the team already been here, done that? Technically, the Sabres are still in the midst of the rebuild that started during the infamous tank year; shouldn’t the team be adding, rather than subtracting, proven players at this point?
Following Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over the Washington Capitals, the Sabres have scored 38 goals in 15 games – the fifth-lowest total in the NHL. Do some math – Kane’s nine goals accounts for 24% of Buffalo’s total offensive production this season. Add in his six assists, and Kane has been involved in 39% of Buffalo’s goals so far this year. All told, the line of Kane – Jack Eichel – Jason Pominville has produced exactly half of the Buffalo Sabres’ goals this season.
And people still want to trade this guy? The Sabres can barely score WITH Evander Kane; who in their right minds thinks the team should consider life without him? Fortunately, it appears as if GM Jason Botterill is not openly shopping Kane right now . . . but rumor has it that Botterill IS entertaining inquiries about Kane, which means trading him is not something the team has outright decided against.
The Buffalo Sabres have no one in their pipeline who can even come close to replacing Evander Kane, and the team cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of past regimes. Trading Kane in exchange for high draft picks will only delay the current rebuild even more; instead, Jason Botterill and company need to find a way to re-sign Kane in the offseason and continue to build around its young nucleus.