Whether or not Evander Kane will fit into the vision of the new regime of the Sabres remains to be seen, but that clock is ticking.
Kane, 26, is entering the final season of his six-year, $31.5 million contract and has been eligible to sign an extension since July 1.
But does Kane want to stay in Buffalo beyond 2017-18?
Do the Sabres, now under the guidance of general manager Jason Botterill and head coach Phil Housley, view him as a long term fixture for the franchise?
Only time will tell.
If the Sabres get an indication from Kane that he may not want to stay beyond this season, or if they decide they won’t want to extend him, then dealing an asset before it continues to depreciate would certainly make sense.
The Sabres also want to push forward as a team this year and make noticeable strides in the standings though, and Kane lead the team with 28 goals last season.
Another factor, which could be argued from the ‘keep him’ perspective or the ‘trade him’ camp is that his cap hit is on the relatively affordable side, for what he brings, at $5.25 million. The winger is not costing the Sabres a lot there, but it also wouldn’t be terribly difficult for a number of acquiring teams to make room for him under the cap.
NHL Insider Darren Dreger joined Buffalo’s WGR 550 on Friday morning and indicated that there wasn’t necessarily any trade buzz surrounding Kane at the moment, although “things do slow down” at this time of year.
“That’s not to say that Botterill isn’t getting calls,” clarified Dreger. “I don’t know that he is or he isn’t. The party line has been that it’s a team that’s in the win-now mode – that may consider themselves a Stanley Cup contender, perhaps an older team – that would and has showed the most interest in Evander Kane.
“But I think that those general managers with those few clubs would also want to see how he starts the year. Let’s see how his offseason went. It sounds like, in the limited research that I’ve done, that he’s worked pretty hard and he’s motivated going into the contract year.
“So my sense is that he’s going to be a contributing player pretty early for Buffalo. And if that is the case, and he’s not moved before then, then maybe his stock rises a little bit.
“But I think that we’re going to talk a lot about Evander Kane in the early part of the season specific to some of the trade interest.”
Kane, a Vancouver native, does not have any trade protection in his contract and can become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career on July 1, 2018.