Ever since the beginning of the season, the hockey world has known there would not be much star power available at the trade deadline this season. There simply would not be a great many players hitting free agency this summer, and with the Vegas Golden Knights actually competing for a top spot in the Western Conference, the number grew even less. For forwards, the league is looking at mostly penalty kill or power play specialists. These players are generally older as well, such as Mark Letestu, Michael Grabner, or Thomas Vanek.
These circumstances have left the Buffalo Sabres sitting on the most valuable trade piece in the league. Evander Kane is the big target for this year’s trade deadline, and the Sabres are going to try to milk it for all it is worth.
According to a report from TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Sabres have opened up trade discussions for Kane by asking for a first round pick, a prospect, a conditional pick, and a roster player. Obviously, as with any negotiation, the Sabres are aiming high here. The team wants to start high so they get what they feel is of value for the best player available on the market.
When it comes down to it, the Sabres would accept a deal without a roster player. Any team looking to trade for Kane is already going to be competing for the playoffs and they would be unlikely to want to give up one of their own roster players.
Removing the roster player, the Sabres asking price is on par with the return the Winnipeg Jets got for Andrew Ladd at the 2016 trade deadline. The Jets got a first round pick, a prospect in Marko Dano, and a conditional third round pick from the Chicago Blackhawks. Bob McKenzie of TSN and NBC Sports has reported for a few months that the Sabres want to base their deal around the Ladd deal, so this asking price is no surprise.
Whether the Sabres get back anywhere close to this value is another story. Kane is often the center of controversy, warranted or not. His time with the Jets was clouded by distractions off the ice. Kane has been mostly off the radar during his time in Buffalo, but it is hard to shake a reputation. Just last week there were reports of a scuffle in practice between Kane and teammate Justin Falk, with Falk calling Kane “selfish.” Seeing the context of that scuffle shows it was nothing, but to many people it is just another example of a bad trend.
Kane will be traded before the deadline on February 26, and it will be the biggest trade of the season unless someone unexpected gets traded. But for the Sabres, the trade won’t solve their biggest issues. If anything, it will only further deplete their ability to score. Hopefully the assets the Sabres will get in the Kane trade will help them build a better team for next season.