Evander Kane: Blue and Gold or Dead and Cold?

Dude just needs some gold with that blue.  Photo from sportsnet.com

Dude just needs some gold with that blue. Photo from sportsnet.com

8:39 am, February 11th, 2015 posted to my facebook wall: “Your thoughts on Evander Kane in blue and gold?”

“I’m for it, as long as we keep our first round picks. Stewart, Armia, and a second, maybe? I’ve got an interesting draft prospects piece coming out this week, and I think we need those late round picks – we may have the opportunity to put something really incredible together.” (Stay tuned for that.)

We didn’t keep that pick – we gave up A LOT for Winnipeg’s bad boy Evander Kane and his teammate, Zach Bogosian, along with goaltending prospect Jason Kazdorf. For these three players, we are reportedly sending Drew Stafford, Tyler Myers, Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux, and our lowest first round pick.

Son, can you play me a melody...better than the power play?  Photo from sabres.com

Son, can you play me a melody…better than the power play? Photo from sabres.com

Stafford had to go. He is a perennial disappointment for Buffalo fans; he shows flashes of talent but has never been consistent. He’s an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and he would have commanded money that he hasn’t really earned, and Buffalo shouldn’t pay. Unpucked will never be the same, but Drew’s time here had come. I’m happy that Myers has found a new home. He’s another player that never met expectations in fans’ eyes – a viewpoint I don’t necessarily agree with. I think this season, we saw Myers’ confidence return and his play move closer to his rookie season. Myer’s suffered under Lindy Ruff, for one reason or another, but he is first on the team in ice time – he plays nearly half a game a night. He is on the ice for a lot of bad plays, but he is ALWAYS on the ice, so it stands to reason that he’s seen as a weakness on the team. In Myers, we’re losing our top paired defenseman, Power Play quarterback, stalwart penalty killer, and our best transitional d-man. Good luck in the tail-end of the season, and likely in the playoffs, boys.

Maybe Armia didn't get a fair shake, but sacrifices need to be made.  Photo from buffalohockeybeat.com

Maybe Armia didn’t get a fair shake, but sacrifices need to be made. Photo from buffalohockeybeat.com

The prospects are a bit more difficult to measure. Joel Armia is having one hell of a season in Rochester right now. He’s a +3 with 25 points in 32 games on a team that is barely holding onto mediocrity. He’s worked well on the wing with fellow prospect Mikhail Grigorenko – a tandem that has seemed to elevate Grigs’ slumping game. It’s tough to see Armia go, but we’ve seen some big wingers who were able to score in the minors, and we know it doesn’t always translate to the NHL game. There is a lot of clamor over the loss of Lemieux – twitter and local sportstalk radio are going crazy over this piece in particular, but I’m not so sure. Lemieux is another big winger, and his tenacity definitely sets him apart from some players on the current roster, but it is my opinion that he’s not a unique player by any stretch of the imagination. Kris Baker, Sabres’ prospects reporter echoed this sentiment on the radio this morning, indicating that there are two players in the draft that could easily replace Lemieux – Collin DeBrusk (covered here) and Jordan Greenway, who is featured in an upcoming piece. The problem is that we’ve given up one of those late first round picks in this deal, and that limits our ability to get one of those players. Of all of the gentlemen we’re sending westward, it is this mystery player that concerns me the most. I really thought we were in a unique position to grab some very dynamic players this draft.

Good defensive anchor and one hell of a beard.  Photo from nhl.com

Good defensive anchor and one hell of a beard. Photo from nhl.com

So what do we get back? Zach Bogosian is no slouch. He is also carrying heavy ice-time for the Jets, 22:10 over the season, but over the last week, his ice time has increased significantly – nearly 28 minutes in a game against Vancouver on 2/3/2015. It’s possible that Bogosian has been seeing more time in order to promote trade talks, but that’s speculation. He’s a +1 in 41 games with 13 points. The key here is that Bogosian has no power play points, which seems to indicate he lacks some of the offensive prowess that Myers had for us and will probably not fill that hole left by the tower of power play. Also included in this trade is goaltending prospect Jason Kazdorf. He seems to be an average goaltender for RPI’s hockey team – he had a great year in 2012-2013, but has since fallen off. He’s got a 90% save percentage and a 2.94 goals against average. It is expected that he’ll stay in college again next season, which doesn’t at all address the potential loss of Enroth & Neuvirth at the end of this season. It is anticipated that Hackett should be NHL ready, but we’ve also got Linus Ullmark waiting in the wings – Ullmark blew me away in prospects camp and I’d like to see him get some time this fall. Curious, indeed, Mr. Murray.

Then there is the main man. The big name. The fish that everyone wants to fry – Evander Kane. There is no shortage of reports regarding his meltdown last week and eventual decision to end his season abruptly.  Kane is a power forward extraordinaire, which is something the Sabres are fiercely lacking. Kane is a fierce forward with a bit of a mean streak and the ability to put the puck in the net.  Period.  We do not have that here, and we need that very badly. I watched the last two minutes of last night’s game against Ottawa. We had a 6-on-4 and couldn’t get a puck through to save our lives – largely for lack of trying. Everyone was set up on the outside, no one went to the net, no bodies were in front – this is not something that will be a concern with Kane; in fact, his play is not a concern at all. The concern regarding Kane is his lockerroom presence/off ice antics. The problem here is one we see very often in American sports – young men get money and lose their minds. Thankfully for the city of Buffalo, we have had this happen very recently with one of our own. Does anyone remember the shenanigans Patrick Kane pulled a few years ago, right in our own backyard? No? Perhaps that’s because Lord Stanley’s Cup makes one hell of a wall that blocks out the past.


I’m sad to see that pick go, but to address the original question, I am excited to see Evander Kane in blue and gold. I’m anxious to see him skating with some of the best hockey players this city has seen in decades – perhaps some of the best players the league has seen in that time. I am confident that Tim Murray would not have given up so much to get a player that he didn’t feel would fit into this culture. We have seen that foolish young men with talent can mature to become good team players. Evander Kane is perfect for Buffalo. We’ve been told we’re too brash. We’ve been told we don’t deserve it. We’ve been told we’re bad team players, too. We can’t wait to prove them wrong, right along with you. Welcome to Buffalo, Evander.


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One Comment on “Evander Kane: Blue and Gold or Dead and Cold?”

  1. erikwollschlager February 11, 2015 at 3:22 pm #

    Reblogged this on ewollschlager and commented:

    Welcome to Buffalo, Evander.

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