Reports suggest the Sabres will give their new coach a say on what to with left winger Evander Kane.
The Buffalo Sabres’ recent hiring of Jason Botterill as their new GM has resurrected the trade speculation regarding left winger Evander Kane. The 25-year-old’s off-ice problems last summer made him a fixture in this season’s rumor mill.
Speaking to WGR 550 on Wednesday, TSN insider Darren Dreger speculated whoever Botterill hires as the Sabres new coach will want a say in determining Kane’s future in Buffalo. Meanwhile, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman told Edmonton’s 630 CHED Botterill declined to comment specifically about Kane.
Friedman suggests there’s a sense the Sabres must make a decision soon about Kane, who’s a year away from unrestricted free agency with a $5.25-million cap hit for 2017-18. He feels the club must re-sign him or place the winger on the trade block.
Dreger and Friedman noted trade rumors this season frequently linked the Vancouver Canucks to Kane. He’s a Vancouver native and the Canucks need scoring depth.
Friedman said he hasn’t heard of any specific clubs with interest in the veteran forward. If Botterill shops Kane this summer, Dreger speculates the asking price could be upwards of a second-round draft pick and perhaps a player. He adds he hasn’t heard of anyone making a package offer for Kane since joining the Sabres.
In his eight NHL seasons, Kane’s tallied 20-or-more goals three times and exceeded 40 points four times. However, his off-ice issues, inconsistent play and high cap hit for next season make him difficult to move.
Any club willing to take a chance on Kane could be reluctant to part with more than a third rounder for his services. They could also squeeze Botterill to pick up part of Kane’s cap hit or take back a toxic contract in return.
Kane, however, seemed to turn a corner this season. After returning from a rib injury, he was among the Sabres’ best players. If he’s matured and put his troubled past behind him, perhaps Botterill could consider re-signing him.
If Kane is shopped it’s unlikely he’ll join the Canucks. While they need scoring it appears management is engaging in a full-fledged rebuild, putting the focus on younger, more affordable players.
DUCKS RISK LOSING GOOD DEFENSEMAN IN EXPANSION DRAFT
The Anaheim Ducks recent exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs has NHL pundits and fans pondering GM Bob Murray’s off-season options. Carrying considerable blueline depth, the Ducks risk losing a good defenseman to the Vegas Golden Knights in next month’s expansion draft.
Should Murray opt to protect three defensemen and seven forwards, a rearguard such as Sami Vatanen or Josh Manson would likely be exposed. Sportsnet’s Luke Fox suggests asking veteran blueliner Kevin Bieksa to waive his no-movement clause to make himself eligible for the expansion draft. Murray could then protect Vatanen, Manson, Hampus Lindholm and Cam Fowler.
Under that scenario, however, Murray can only protect four forwards, leaving a good young winger such as Rickard Rakell or Jakob Silfverberg exposed. Either would be a tempting option for Vegas GM George McPhee.
Murray could try trading one of his defensemen for a promising young forward. Fox lists the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Buffalo Sabres as possible trade partners. ESPN.com’s Craig Custance considers the Lightning a good choice, suggesting Murray look into acquiring Jonathan Drouin.
The Dallas Stars could be another intriguing trade option. GM Jim Nill expressed a willingness to shop his first-round pick (third overall) in this year’s draft for an established defenseman.
Vatanen or Manson could be the likely trade candidates. Upcoming shoulder surgery could sideline the 25-year-old Vatanen for perhaps five months or longer. Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston notes an injured player can still be dealt, but this recent news could hurt the Finn’s value in the days leading up to the expansion draft.
Don’t expect Murray to move Fowler. He was the subject of frequent trade talk last summer but the 25-year-old blossomed into the Ducks’ best defensman this season. He’s a year away from UFA eligibility but Murray could re-sign him to a lucrative long-term extension this July.
Custance also recommends the Ducks consider trading veteran right winger Corey Perry. The 32-year-old’s production slipped this season, and with four years left on his contract at an annual cap hit of over $8.6 million, Custance feels they cannot afford to carry him much longer.
Perry has a no-movement clause but it’s unlikely Murray asks him to waive it. Despite the drop-off in his scoring in 2016-17, Perry remains among the Ducks’ biggest stars and is a respected team leader. He was also a clutch performer in the 2017 playoffs, netting three overtime goals. They’ll look for a bounce-back performance from him in 2017-18.
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.