Dreger: Kane's return value might be as good as it gets

February 26, 2017
With the NHL Trade Deadline rapidly approaching, the rumors and speculations surrounding teams looking to sell off assets will continue to sky-rocket.

The Buffalo Sabres currently sit just three points out of a playoff spot with games on Saturday and Sunday before taking their scheduled five-day bye week. With 24 games left to play, it is unclear whether or not general manager Tim Murray will want to buy or sell before the March 1 deadline at 3 p.m.

One player who could be traded by the deadline is Sabres forward Evander Kane. In 46 games this season, Kane has scored a team-high 19 goals and has registered 29 points since suffering four cracked ribs in the season opener on October 13. Kane is currently in the fifth year of a six-year deal that will pay him an average annual salary of $5.25 million.

The rumors have been swirling around Kane all season long, and it is expected to continue up until the deadline has passed. TSN's Darren Dreger knows a number of teams who are looking to make an upgrade at forward, especially for a playoff run this season.

"There are a number of teams who absolutely are looking for an upgrade up front and somebody they can inject into their top-six," Dreger said with Andrew Peters and Martin Biron on The Instigators on Friday. "There are lots of teams most definitely looking for a top-six player. Evander Kane, when healthy and motivated which he appears to be on both fronts, he can be an impact guy."

Since being acquired from the Winnipeg Jets over two years ago, Kane has scored 38 goals in 110 games but has dealt with injuries that has caused him to miss 58 games with the Sabres.

Kane has also dealt with some off ice issues with law enforcement, which has seen him under investigation twice by Buffalo police. Kane was charged with harassment and criminal trespass after an incident this past June, but his case will be dismissed as long as he stays out of trouble with the law.

While Kane has remained healthy and in goodwill with law enforcement, his play on the ice has arguably been at its best since his arrival in Buffalo. With his elevated play, the price tag on Kane could continue to rise if Murray is fielding trade offers. On the flip side, if Kane continues to excel at the pace he is at, it may make it more enticing for Murray to keep Kane in house.

"From Murray's perspective in Buffalo, you have to wonder if he's not a little bit worried," Dreger said. "If he can look into the crystal ball and see that for the next couple of seasons Evander Kane was going to remain healthy and remain as dominate of a player as he can be, why would you consider trading him? You don't know that. So what you have to do then is balance what the return might be based on how the way he is playing right now. A return might be as great as it's ever going to be. So do you maximize the asset via trade now, or do you hope that he continues to play as well as he's playing for the length of his term in Buffalo?"

Earlier in the season, it had been reported that the Sabres and Vancouver Canucks had trade discussions surrounding Kane. While no structured deals were ever reported, the asking price for Kane was speculated to be very high.

"When those rumors first started circulating, I checked with both general managers and both acknowledged that it was nothing more than tire kicking," Dreger said. "I don't even know that they got down to the point of swapping names... It happened earlier in the season, so you would assume that Murray was big-game hunting. I don't even want to speculate some of the names that might have been included coming out of Vancouver. They were probably players that Jim Benning wouldn't consider trading."

You can listen to Dreger's entire interview from The Instigators below: