Let’s get this out of the way first: the Nashville Predators were never going to get Evander Kane. The Winnipeg Jets are Central Division rivals of the Predators and, therefore, it would be foolish for General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to ship his disgruntled young star to a team that could take out his frustrations on him five times a season.
Now that that’s cleared up…
Veteran winger Drew Stafford, 2010 Calder Trophy winner Tyler Myers, prospects Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux as well as a first round pick head to Winnipeg for Kane, blueliner Zack Bogosian and unsigned goaltending prospect Jason Kasdorf.
Simply put? This helps both organizations but the Sabres have set themselves up to be a scary team in the near future.
This was a perfect situation for Buffalo. Over the past couple years, they have accumulated two first round picks in this year’s draft (and kept their own, giving them three total). That gives them some highly coveted assets to work with. And, with a dismal 16-36-3 record, they’re the front runners for the Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel sweepstakes. Kane is out for the rest of the season following shoulder surgery so he can’t accidently ruin their chances there. That just leaves Bogosian who will hardly blister the scoresheet.
On the other side, Winnipeg gets some help in their attempt to get back into the playoffs for just the second time in their franchise history (yes, that includes the Atlanta years). Myers will immediately help their blueline that already boasts names like Jacob Trouba, Tobias Enstrom and (sometimes) Dustin Byfuglien. Stafford gives them some secondary scoring and, while they didn’t replace Kane’s offense, Armia has shown flashes of stardom at both the World Junior and AHL levels.
Make no mistake, Buffalo GM Tim Murray did a masterful job with this. Are there concerns about Kane’s shoulder going forward? Sure but it’s worth the risk. Especially when the price was the highest of the three first round picks, a pending free agent in Stafford, a promising prospect who couldn’t crack the NHL lineup in Armia and a blueliner who needed a change of scenery in Myers. What’s more? Murray an Sabres now have the potential of a healthy Kane skating alongside McDavid or Eichel for at least a half a decade.
Buffalo’s most painful part of the deal is Lemieux. The Barrie Colts winger was the top pick in the second round of last summer’s draft and is second on the Colts with 35 goals in 46 games. He’s the son of former NHL veteran Claude Lemieux and plays a similar style in that guys hate to play against him but love to have him on their team. But, as always in deals like this, it takes something to get something and what the Sabres get is a proven goal scorer in Kane. Lemieux was just a sacrifice in order to make it happen.
Then again, there’s a report that he wasn’t going to sign with the Sabres anyway.
Buffalo fans should be thrilled about the future. Especially that the future begins as early as June 26.
PHOTO CREDIT: Mel Boysen // Flickr (used with permission)