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.”
“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 Polak, John-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.