Trading Kane

June 06, 2017 - 5:56 pm
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You have to give up something to get something. A really good trade is one where both teams win. How many times have you heard those phrases over the years? Both came to mind this week amidst speculation the Buffalo Sabres are talking about an Evander Kane trade with at least the Los Angeles Kings. In fact, TSN’s Bob McKenzie says “it's likely” Kane will be traded this offseason. Good, its the right move. This has nothing to do with any disdain for Kane. It's just the right move at the right time for the Sabres and new general manager Jason Botterill.

Everyone knows the Sabres need to upgrade their group of defensemen and add a top four blue liner, if not a top two. This is where I tell you that you have to give something up to get something. I love talking about trades on our show because we will get calls, texts and tweets with trade ideas where the Sabres get a good player while giving up their garbage. It just doesn’t work that way unless you find another general manager who can be fleeced.

If you want to get a top defenseman, it will likely take someone like Kane or Sam Reinhart. A top prospect like Alex Nylander or the 8th overall pick in this year's draft might even have to be part of the package, depending on who the Sabres are attempting to acquire.

If Kane is traded, no question the Sabres are losing an asset. A top-six forward, Kane provides badly needed even strength goal scoring, speed (something the Sabres don’t have enough of) and physical forechecking (also something the Sabres have in short supply). 

But Kane’s value is as high as it's been in his short time with Buffalo. In addition, Kane is entering the final year of his contract and I’m guessing he will be looking for a bigger deal than the six-year, $31.5 million contract that will expire in July of 2018. I don’t think the Sabres will want to make a long-term financial commitment to Kane, who will always carry concerns of off-ice transgressions in the back of their minds.  

Kane is an asset that should be moved and the timing is perfect thanks to the Expansion Draft. There are players who are available this offseason who normally wouldn’t be on the market due to the protection lists each team must submit leading up to this month’s Expansion Draft. The Sabres won’t have any problems finding top-four defensemen who are there to be had for the right price.

Perhaps a Kane deal with the Kings could net the Sabres a player like Jake Muzzin. The 28-year old Muzzin would bring size (6’ 3”, 215-pounds), offense from the back end (back-to-back 40-point seasons in 2014-15 and 2015-16) and valuable playoff experience, having won a Stanley Cup in 2014. Muzzin is also under contract for three more years at a very affordable cap number of $4 million. You could plug him in on the top pairing with Rasmus Ristolainen.

As I said, trading Kane does create some holes on offense. Maybe Botterill has something up his sleeve to acquire more scoring help but he could just plan on replacing Kane’s assets by committee. If players like Justin Bailey, Nick Baptiste and even Alex Nylander are ready for full-time NHL status, they could combine to make up for some of that goal scoring that went west.

It's time for Botterill to strike while the iron is relatively hot and trading Kane at this point is a no brainer.

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