When the Sabres acquired Evander Kane from the Winnipeg Jets in a trade on February 11, 2015, the organization gave up a lot for the young, power forward.
Buffalo traded away Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Joel Armia and a 2015 1st round pick. Winnipeg used that pick to draft Jack Roslovic 25th overall.
At the time, Kane was just 23 years old and was out for the season due to surgery on his right shoulder. Up until that point, he had spent his whole career with the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise, topping out at 30 goals and 57 points in his third NHL season.
“In his mind, he probably wanted a more important role,” former General Manager Tim Murray said. “He can be an important guy here. He’s going to be a big part of any success we have here.”
Now, a few years later and Kane is proving he can be that electric player the Sabres had hoped they’d get from him.
Last season, after being injured and going the first two months without a goal (12 games), Kane came to life and hit his stride. In the team’s final 59 games, he scored 28 goals and was the team’s hottest player for much of the season.
This season, Kane has come up big already in a contract year. In seven games, he has five goals and five assists. He’s chipped in on the power play with three points, but also on the other end with a pair of shorthanded goals.
He’s on a torrid run and won’t keep up these numbers, but he’s on pace to finish the season with 58 goals and 117 points.
EVANDER KANE TIES IT WITH 10 SECONDS LEFT! WOW! pic.twitter.com/rXMCGnNsrF
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) October 18, 2017
While he’ll cool off to an extent, Kane is providing consistency atop the Sabres’ lineup, and that’s something that the team hasn’t seen much of. His ability to create opportunities and drive to the net have paid off, leaving Buffalo with no choice but to use him as one of its’ biggest weapons.
At 26 years old, Kane still prime years ahead of him, and has yet to play on a successful Sabres team. If he’s capable of playing like this on a struggling team, he’s going to solidify a role going forward and it may cost Buffalo to part ways with a player such as Sam Reinhart.
“In the moment, the Buffalo Sabres aren’t interested in moving Evander Kane, unless there’s an offer that they cannot refuse,” Dreger said.
The more Kane continues to find the scoresheet, the higher his trade value will go. It appears the Sabres have struck gold with the forward, and it may be wise to hang on to him after this season.
He has wanted an important role and he’s developing one in Buffalo.
“This is as good as I felt in the last three years. I’m just happy to be contributing and I want to get in the win column more consistently.” – Kane
Kane leads the team with 39 shots on goal while no other teammate has more than 19. While the team has a -10 goal differential, Kane has a +/- of -1.
In a dreadful start to the season, Kane has showed up with an amazing first few games. He’s been one of Buffalo’s best players over the last 10 months, and fans should be eager to watch him continue to excel.