Simon: Should the Sabres deal Evander Kane?
The Sabres are off for their bye week but there is one burning issue producing very spirited debates among Sabres fans. What to do, if anything, about Evander Kane?
The red hot Kane has scored 21 goals in his last 36 games with 20 of those coming at even strength. Kane is playing exactly the way Sabres fans would have drawn it up when Tim Murray made the big deal with Winnipeg.
But Kane's trade value is a hot topic with the March 1st deadline approaching.
I'm sure many of you think it is crazy to even entertain the idea of dealing the team's leading goal scorer. In fact, you'd probably advise Murray to hit end call on his phone if another general manager asks what it would take to get Kane.
But there are a few points that can be made when it comes to the idea of shipping the Vancouver native elsewhere.
Tim Murray's job is to put together a Stanley Cup contender and while the talent level at forward has improved, there is a gaping hole on defense. The Sabres need one and perhaps two top four defensemen. If you want to get a top four blue liner you'll have to give up something of value. Kane's value has never been higher as a Sabre.
At some point the Sabres will have to decide whether or not Kane is a core piece going forward. He has one year left on his contract and will certainly be looking for a raise over his current average salary of $5.25 million.
Will the Sabres be willing to give Kane a long term, big money contract? Kane's off ice issues would certainly give Murray and company pause as will the salary cap. Can the Sabres make everything fit? They've handed out big contracts to Ryan O'Reilly($ 7.0 million cap number), Kyle Okposo(6.0 million) and Rasmus Ristolainen(5.4 million). There will probably be big pay days in the not too distant future for Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart. Robin Lehner is a restricted free agent after the season and will be looking for a bump up from his $2 million salary. The Sabres also have Tyler Ennis(4.6) and Matt Moulson(5.0) on the books for two more years and three more years for Zach Bogosian(5.1).
I'm not pounding the table demanding they trade Kane but I'd be worried about giving him a big contract because of his off ice missteps. The Sabres don't have to do anything for now. They can't pursue an extension until after July 1st so they could let this all play out into next season. They can see if Kane behaves himself this summer and then open extension talks with the intent to sign him. If they can't reach an agreement they could always move him at next year's trade deadline.
Murray wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't listen to any offers for Kane right now. Yes, it would hurt the offense but it would bolster the weakest part of the Sabres roster and the goal is to build a complete roster that can win a cup.