Strategic Trading: Where the Sabres should trade Evander Kane

January 26, 2018


Despite his recent cold streak, Evander Kane remains the top guaranteed trade piece available at the deadline this year. If the Rangers were smart they would ship out soon to be UFA Rick Nash and start restocking the cupboard for the inevitable rebuild to come in the next few years, but I'm not expecting them to do the smart thing. 


There have been reports that Jason Botterill is asking for 4 pieces in a trade for Kane. This seams like a pipe dream but I'm ok with shooting for the stars, so long as you don't hold on too long and let a good offer get away. That said I think the most likely result is a pick and a mid level prospect and maybe a conditional pick if he re-signs. 


Given the nature of the point system in the NHL all but 8 teams still have a reasonable shot at the playoffs so the Sabres should have some flexibility in choosing where to send Kane assuming that most of the offers will be similar.


If we can assume that the pick would be a first rounder given Kane's status as the top available forward, I think the Sabres should try to deal him to a team hovering right around the playoff bubble, hoping that the team he gets traded to ends up missing the playoffs and turn the pick traded to the Sabres in to a top 15 pick and additional lottery balls in the Dahlin draft lottery. 


Assuming comparable trade offers, these are the teams I think Buffalo should try to trade Kane to. 


  • Carolina

    • As of January 26 the Hurricanes are 4 points back of a wild card spot and 5 points back of 3rd in the Metro. They're just close enough to still have hope, but they still have huge a question mark in net and lack a real top center all while playing in one of the tightest divisions in the NHL. Carolina should be good eventually, but I don't think it will be this year. 

  • Chicago

    • This one scares me a bit simply because I don't like the idea of sending good players to Chicago, but at the same time their playoff hopes are all but gone at this point given their position in the Central division. That said they are quickly seeing the decline of their core and I could see them making a last ditched effort to make one last run at the playoffs by adding a piece like Kane to the fold. I would still expect them to miss the playoffs and gladly take their first lottery pick in over a decade.

  • Calgary

    • Now Calgary could be a somewhat dangerous play because they're in a spot where Kane could add just enough of an offensive boost to their second line to push them over the edge and into the playoffs, but the biggest threat to the Flames playoff chances are the Anaheim Ducks who, despite major injury issues, have hung on in the playoff race. I would expect a healthy Ducks team to make a strong push into the playoffs and knock out the Flames. (This Paragraph could also apply to the Kings).

  • Colorado

    • The Avs just went on an incredible run lead by Nathan MacKinnon and are now in the playoff mix. The unfortunate thing for Colorado is that they play in the Central division so they have no shot at a top 3 spot and have to fight with Dallas, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Minnesota, and Chicago for one of the 2 wild card spots and I just don't see them getting the job done. Kane could look real good on MacKinnon's wing for a few weeks, but I doubt it would be enough.

  • New York Islanders

    • The Islanders are a team that don't really need any additional offense, but they could make a silly offer for Kane in another attempt to show John Tavares that they are serious about winning. I also think the Islanders could be an interesting play in so far as packaging Kane and Lehner together given their struggles in net. The Islanders have a good shot of getting into the playoffs but playing in the Metro really hurts their chances down the stretch and makes them a prime candidate to just come up short and give the Sabres a top 15 pick. 

  • Minnesota

    • Now I know I said above that we are assuming similar offers, but I think the Wild could be an interesting idea because they are nearing the end of their window to compete in the playoffs with the Parise and Suter contracts becoming bigger anchors on their cap situation, so they could offer something kind of crazy for another goal scorer and still miss the playoffs. In this scenario the Sabres could walk away with a better prospect or 2 and a lottery pick all at once. 


The extra percentage points in the draft lottery aren't a massive deal but since there are 3 lottery drawings now it doesn't hurt to increase your odds a bit. If nothing else having a second top 15 pick would be a real nice piece for Botterill to work with in what could arguably be the most important offseason of his career so far. 

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