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By Chris Chilelli
Buffalo Sabres Writer
Over the past few weeks there have been some new rumblings about the Sabres looking to trade Evander Kane. It is well documented that Buffalo hasn’t been happy with Kane’s off the ice tactics, and as a fan of the team, neither am I. But you have to realize that Kane is still just 24-years-old and growing up. Sure, Kane has been in hot water twice now since being dealt to the Sabres, but neither time has led to criminal charges or real evidence.
But you also have to look at the hockey side of things for the Sabres and people calling for him to be traded. Kane is a unique talent that doesn’t come around too often. He is an incredible skater and has a knack to put the puck in the back of the net. After scoring 20 goals last year in an injury-plagued season, you have to realize that he is just scratching the surface. People forget that he missed more than half of the season before last year, so there was some definite rust, add that to the fact that he was on a new team in a new city and there is bound to be some growing pains.
Let me pose a serious question to every Sabre fan who has said that it is time to ship Kane out of town: who replaces him? It is crazy to me how quickly people forget that skilled players do not grow on trees. Sure, Buffalo has some talent up front with more to come in the next few years, but let me name you a few of the other left wingers Buffalo currently employs. Matt Moulson, Marcus Foligno, and Nic Deslauriers. Kind of makes you think twice about trading Evander Kane, it certainly makes a Kane trade nearly impossible to swallow as a Buffalo fan. People will argue that it won’t matter if Buffalo signs Jimmy Vesey, and my argument to them is: you’re wrong.
Vesey will be a talent in this league for years to come, but it is far from a guarantee that he chooses Buffalo, and it could also be a long shot that he mirrors the production of Kane in his rookie season. If Buffalo does land Vesey and keeps Kane, that pushes Tyler Ennis to the third line, that is starting to look like a playoff caliber lineup up front if you ask me. Another plus to keeping Kane around is that it allows Vesey to play some more sheltered minutes if he decides Buffalo is his best fit. I say this because matchups really do matter in the game today, and keeping Kane allows Vesey to see more favorable matchups.
Now I really believe that Kane needs to change his ways and show Buffalo that he is a part of the long-term solution here, but there is no realistic way that moving him makes this team better. The top-six that Tim Murray has worked so hard to make relevant would be crippled without Kane. Buffalo has a good shot to sneak into the playoff picture, but if the team decides to move Kane just to get him out of town, then Buffalo will be on the outside looking in for the sixth straight season come playoff time.