The rumor mill has gone quiet on Evander Kane, and though there are some potential suitors that make sense, odds are the winger will begin the season in Buffalo.
Since last summer, Buffalo Sabres left winger Evander Kane frequently surfaced in media trade speculation. Leading up to last month’s NHL draft in Chicago, the 26-year-old was among the players believed on the trade block.
In the two weeks since the draft, however, Kane barely registered in the rumor mill. He remains with the Sabres and there’s little indication out of Buffalo suggesting he’s being shopped. Eligible next July for unrestricted free agency, he carries a $5.25-million cap hit.
Appearing Wednesday on Winnipeg’s TSN 1290, Darren Dreger acknowledged the likelihood of Kane opening the season with the Sabres. However, he felt sufficient time remains for a club in “win-now” mode to pursue him.
Dreger said it was his understanding several teams in that category kicked the tires on Kane. He proposed the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks as examples that fit the profile.
The Ducks could use a power forward like Kane patrolling the left side on one of their top-two forward lines. They also still have considerable blueline depth to tempt the Sabres.
But after giving up Shea Theodore and Clayton Stoner during last month’s expansion draft, they’re unlikely to move another D-man now. Last Sunday, the Toronto Sun‘s Steve Simmons reported word around the league is Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen was off the trade block. With only $5 million in salary-cap space, they’d have to move salary to comfortably absorb Kane’s cap hit.
The Sharks, on the other hand, have more than enough room (over $10 million) for Kane. The departure of Patrick Marleau to Toronto via free agency creates a need for an experienced scoring winger on the left side. Unfortunately, they lack sufficient depth in blueliners to draw upon for trade bait.
Early last month, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported the Los Angeles Kings expressed interest in Kane. Approaching the draft weekend, however, he said those discussions had cooled.
With $6.5 million in cap room, the Kings could squeeze Kane into their payroll, especially if they sent some salary to the Sabres in return. However, their recent signing of Mike Cammalleri indicates they prefer a more affordable option at left wing, at least for now. Like the Sharks, they don’t have a lot of defensemen to dangle as trade bait.
If Sabres GM Jason Botterill were shopping Kane, the winger probably would’ve been dealt by now. He could retain Kane for this season, evaluate his performance and the cost of re-signing him. If the winger proves too expensive to retain, Botterill could explore his market value by the trade deadline if the Sabres are out of playoff contention by that point.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.