The Buffalo Sabres might become sellers before the trade deadline, but it is possible they won’t get a return worth a damn.
The Buffalo Sabres are currently playing for pride and/or the right to draft Rasmus Dahlin, the Swedish blue liner who is projected to go first in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
As a result, there are plenty of players on Buffalo’s roster who could be moved by the February 26 NHL trade deadline, most notably Evander Kane, who is still ranked first in the TSN Trade Bait List. Of all the players that GM Jason Botterill could move this season, Kane is the obvious choice, due to the fact that he is set to become a UFA on July 1.
Problem is, he is worth nowhere near as much today as he was two months ago. On December 1, Kane was sitting on 12 goals and was on pace to score 39 goals this season. Had Kane continued playing at a pace even remotely close to what he produced in the first two months of the season, it is feasible that Botterill would have been able to trade Kane for an impressive haul (even if Botterill’s initial asking price was too high). A first-round pick and possibly a prospect for a guy who was on pace to top 30 goals heading into the playoffs? Lesser players have fetched more.
But now . . . Kane’s production nose-dived beginning in December, when he found the back of the net just three times. Even so, Kane at least generated eight assists, and 11 points in one month playing for a team this bad is nothing to sneeze at. Then 2018 rolled into town, and Kane is officially a ghost. One goal, and one assist – that’s it, folks, since the calendar flipped. And it’s actually getting WORSE: Kane has zero points, and is -5 , in his last eight games. He has not scored a point since managing an assist against Columbus on January 11 – and the Sabres are hoping to get a first-round pick AND a prospect for Him?
Further hurting Buffalo’s chances of getting anything close to equal value for Kane’s services is the fact that more forwards are getting shopped now that teams have a clearer sense of whether or not they have a legitimate chance of making the playoffs. For example, New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton asked Rick Nash to submit his list of 18 teams he would not be traded to on Monday, as the Rangers begin to come to terms with the fact that qualifying for the playoffs is looking less and less like a realistic goal.
As a result, TSN’s Trade Bait List now features 12 forwards in the top 15, including a ridiculous 10 players currently listed as left wingers. To say that there are plenty of options available on the wing for playoff-bound teams is an understatement. Suddenly, it is no longer a gimme that the Buffalo Sabres will be able to move Kane, and if they do, it might be for a return that is well-under market value.
Unless, of course, Kane gets hot . . . say, starting tonight when the Anaheim Ducks come to town . . . .
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