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Sabres GM not actively shopping Evander Kane

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Tim Murray likes what Evander Kane has done this season, and he isn’t about to trade him for peanuts.

But at the same time, the Buffalo Sabres would like to upgrade their defense, and Kane — who’s only signed through next season — is an obvious candidate to be moved by the general manager.

“I wouldn’t rule it out,” Murray told WGR 550 radio when asked if Kane could get traded ahead of the March 1 deadline.

“Is there a crazy deal that somebody could throw at me that would force me to do it? I guess there is.”

But?

“I’m not pursuing a trade with him,” Murray insisted. “I haven’t made a call, with regards to him, to other teams. I’m a big fan of his game. He plays in our top six. He plays a hard, gritty, heavy game — with speed. And that’s a rare, rare combination.”

Murray then repeated that he’s not shopping the player; nor is he quietly telling the media that Kane is available.

“He’s the type of guy I think we need, if we want to be competitive every night and be a playoff team,” said Murray.

The Sabres weren’t very competitive last night, falling 5-2 to the Ducks while getting outshot 44-26.

On top of that, they lost defenseman Cody Franson for at least the next two games. Buffalo plays at Toronto tomorrow and hosts Vancouver Sunday.

“Franson blocked a shot in his foot and more evaluation for today,” coach Dan Bylsma said, per The Buffalo News. “He is not going to be playing tomorrow or Sunday.”

The hope is that Franson is only out a short while, as he’s one of the Sabres’ pending unrestricted free agents who could get cashed in at the deadline. Contenders are always on the lookout for depth on defense, as evidenced last year by trades involving Roman PolakJohn-Michael Liles, Kris Russell, Justin Schultz, and Jakub Kindl.

As for Kane, even if he doesn’t get dealt at the deadline, he could still get moved this summer. On July 1, the 25-year-old winger will be able to sign a contract extension — and if a team is going to trade for him, it will surely want to keep him for more than a year.

Or, he could re-sign in Buffalo. It all depends if he wants to stay. And if he does, how badly do the Sabres want to keep him?

Kane has 16 goals and 10 assists in 43 games this season.

Related: About those Evander Kane trade rumors…

Penguins lose to Flyers and lose another key player to injury

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PITTSBURGH — Even with a ridiculously long injured list that would be the foundation of a pretty good hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins still found a way to go 8-1-3 in their previous 12 games entering Sunday’s contest against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The injuries finally seemed to start catching up to them on Sunday in a 6-2 loss, extending their current losing streak to three games, matching their season long.

While the loss certainly impacts their pursuit of the top spot in the Metropolitan Division (they remain three points back of the Washington Capitals), and even their quest for home ice advantage in the first round, it is still not the worst thing to come out of Sunday’s game.

The worst thing for them would be the fact the Penguins lost yet another key player to an injury when forward Conor Sheary had to leave the game mid-way through the first period.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said after the game that Sheary is dealing with a lower body injury and that right now he is considered to be day-to-day. It was initially believed that Sheary was injured blocking a shot, but Sullivan insisted that was not the case and that it happened in the offensive zone at some point in the first period.

With Jake Guentzel still sidelined due a concussion he suffered in a recent game against the Buffalo Sabres, that means two-thirds of the team’s recently assembled top line (Sidney Crosby-Sheary-Guentzel) is now sidelined due to injury. Sheary’s injury is especially concerning given how good he has been on Crosby’s wing dating back to the 2016 playoffs. Entering play on Sunday Sheary was averaging nearly a point per game (50 points in 54 games) with almost all of that production coming at even-strength.

They had yet another scare in the third period on Sunday when defenseman Brian Dumoulin had to briefly leave the game and head to the locker room after he was elbowed in the side of the head by Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.

On Sunday, all of the injuries finally seemed to be too much with the Flyers pretty much dominating the game over the final two periods.

The Flyers received goals from six different players (Jordan Weal, Valtteri Filppula, Dale Weise, Jakob Voracek, Radko Gudas and Shayne Gostisbehere) in the win and outshot the Penguins by a 24-15 margin over the final 40 minutes.

“That wasn’t a good effort and at this point of the season we can’t afford to have those,” said Penguins forward Matt Cullen after the game. “I don’t think that was a typical effort for us. I don’t think we had a lot of life, to be honest.”

Even more than winning games the rest of the way the biggest concern for the Penguins has to be getting their list of injured players healthy and finding a way to avoid adding to it, something that has proven to be difficult in recent weeks.

At this point, whether they win the Metropolitan Division or not, they know their path through the Eastern Conference playoffs is very likely going to have to go through both Washington and Columbus, and they are going to need their full complement of players to do it.

One of the biggest factors in winning a Stanley Cup is having all of your key players in the lineup come playoff time.

A year ago the Penguins did.

Right now they are not even close to having that.

Video: Dumoulin shakes off Simmonds’ elbow, but Sheary’s out for Penguins

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Barring a major comeback, the Pittsburgh Penguins look like they’re going to lose to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Their injury losses might be just as big.

On the bright side, it seems like Brian Dumoulin was able to shake off an elbow from Wayne Simmonds. You can watch the hit, which didn’t draw a penalty, in the video above.

Meanwhile, Conor Sheary has been missing since the first period with what might be a lower-body injury.

The Penguins’ list of injuries is already pretty ridiculous, so if one or both of these players miss significant time, tonight will sting deeper than a setback on the scoreboard.

Report: U.S. men’s hockey players may join boycott with women’s team

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Octagon Hockey agent Allan Walsh announced that there’s “word circulating” that potential members of the men’s U.S. hockey team might join the women’s national team in a boycott of the world championships with USA Hockey.

HNIC’s Cassie Campbell reports that she discussed as much with men’s players during the last few weeks about this subject, backing up Walsh.

This update comes on the heels of reports that USA Hockey has been struggling to find players to replace those who are boycotting the world championships. (Puck Daddy provides deep background on that subject.)

The NHLPA has already spoken out in support of the boycott earlier this week. The U.S. women’s national hockey team also released the following statement:

Fight video: Flyers’ Manning vs. Penguins’ Gaunce

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Breaking: the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers don’t like each other.

The stakes might be higher for the Penguins than the Flyers – aside from those who still believe Philly has a shot at a playoff run – their rivalry rarely subsides.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Sunday featured at least one fight, with Cameron Gaunce squaring off against Brandon Manning in a pretty spirited bout.

Manning isn’t shy about fighting, by the way; this was his seventh bout of the season, according to Hockey Fights.

Higher on the radar for the Penguins is the situation for Conor Sheary, who has been absent from the ice since about midway through the first period. PHT will keep an eye out for updates on what could be yet another injury for the health-challenged Pens.