As the N.H.L. trade deadline rapidly approaches the Buffalo Sabres find themselves in an interesting situation.
Will they buy or sell at the deadline? Who could be on the move if the Sabres are active?
These are some of the questions we'll address in the days leading up to the deadline while counting down five Sabres skaters that could be on the move.
Pending Free Agents:
UFA - RW - Brian Gionta -- 60GP: 12G, 15A, 27P (38-years-old)
UFA - D - Dmitry Kulikov -- 34GP: 1G, 1A, 2P (26-years-old)
UFA - D - Cody Franson -- 53GP: 3G, 13A, 16P (29-years-old)
UFA -C - Cal O'Reilly -- 11GP, 0G, 1A, 1P (30-years-old)
UFA - D - Taylor Fedun -- 25 GP, 0G, 7A, 7P (28-years-old)
UFA - G - Anders Nilsson -- 20GP -- 9-7-4, 2.67 GAA, .922 sv%
RFA - LW - Marcus Foligno -- 60 GP: 9G, 7A, 16P (25-years-old)
RFA - C - Zemgus Girgensons -- 53GP: 6G, 7A, 13P (23-years-old)
RFA - C - Johan Larsson -- 36GP: 6G, 5A, 11P (24-years-old)
RFA - C - Evan Rodrigues -- 8GP, 0G, 2A, 2P (23-years-old)
RFA - G - Robin Lehner -- 42GP -- 17-17-6, 2.54 GAA, .925 sv% (25-years-old)
Sabres biggest needs:
Young players that can contribute beyond this season.
The Sabres desperately need help on the blue line and could benefit from adding two young defenders to round out their top-six next year.
On offense, the Sabres need another pure goal scorer to spread the wealth on their top-three lines. This season the Sabres have relied heavily on their first and second lines for scoring but good teams get contributions from at least their top three lines. Just look at the Pittsburgh Penguins last season.
On to our list of potential assets for the Sabres approaching the deadline:
#1 -- LW Evander Kane
Since December 1, Kane has 21 goals, 20 of which have been scored at even strength, the most in the league during that span. His 20 even strength goals are also tied for the fifth most in the league this season.
When you consider that Kane didn't score in his first 12 games of his injury-shortened season, his numbers look even more impressive. In 48 games Kane has 32 points (21G, 11A).
Why he could be moved:
Now is the time for playoff contenders to make a splash and bolster their lineups for a run at the Stanley Cup. Adding Kane to any team would do just that.
The 25-year-old winger has a knack for finding the back of the net and can play solid top-six minutes on most teams. Last year the Pittsburgh Penguins proved that having three viable scoring lines can be the difference between coming up short and winning it all. For many teams, Kane may be the final piece to their three-line puzzle.
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) February 3, 2017
Kane is also under contract next season, and with a $5.25M cap hit, he could be an attractive option for teams trying to win this season or next year. In the grand scheme of things, that's not a bad cap hit. Zach Bogosian, for example, will make more next season. Who do you think deserves more?
Your guess is as good as mine. So many Sabres fans want to see Kane dealt because his value is sky-high, or at least so we think. His return will all depend on how desperately a team needs a scoring winger and how much they trust Kane with his history of off-ice issues.
We'll look into what I think the Sabres should do with Kane coming soon on WKBW.com. Here's a tease -- Don't trade him.
Evander Kane scored. His stock has never been higher. Trade him.
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) February 18, 2017