Evander Kane‘s time is apparently up in Buffalo.
And on the surface that seems kind of puzzling.
They have a clear asset that likes to score — and can score (because everyone likes to score) — seems invested in the team and the city and has no clear desire to move.
What more could a general manager want?
Apparently four pieces – draft picks and prospects, likely.
Jason Botterill may be asking the world, but as TSN’s Darren Dreger pointed out, you don’t get what you don’t ask for.
Still, it’s just a tad odd from a team that hasn’t drafted or developed all that well to be wanting more things they can use to struggle at drafting and developing. What happens if Alexander Nylander doesn’t pan out? Kane is a proven commodity that would like to see the Sabres grow.
Cap issues are certainly a concern, and it’s likely that Kane will command more than the current $5.25 million that he’s been earning since the days when he was with the Winnipeg Jets.
But you’d think a team looking to build around Jack Eichel would want to keep in place some pieces that make their young superstar better.
If Kane is to move at or before the trade deadline, he’s likely heading to a contender as a rental player.
For Kane, this would soften the blow of having to move away from a place he’s happy to be.
Kane has never played in an NHL playoff game before. And for a guy who’s enjoyed the spotlight over his career, he likely won’t have any qualms about playing on hockey’s biggest stage.
So who might be his potential suitors?
The easy guess here would be teams sitting in playoff spots that could use a shot of adrenaline in the scoring column.
Of the 16 teams currently occupying spots, the Columbus Blue Jackets and the San Jose Sharks are the lowest scoring with 126 goals for apiece this season.
The Blue Jackets are getting Vezina-caliber goaltending once again this season from Sergei Bobrovsky and San Jose remains one of the better defensive teams in the league after adopting the age-old policy that defense wins championships.
Whether or not those two teams are willing to make the kind of concessions that Botterill wants will depend, largely, on whether they can make a deep push and if they feel that time is now.
San Jose might even want to retain Kane’s services long-term if the fit is right.
Of the remaining 14 teams, the Pittsburgh Penguins will always be in the mix (even if they actually aren’t).
The Pens are right up against it on the cap and would have to dump something to make room, but it’s no secret they’d like to part ways with defenseman Ian Cole.
Perhaps the Los Angeles Kings would like to throw their hat in the ring.
The Kings are sitting on a six-game losing streak where they’ve scored very little and could use the shot in the arm to regain a playoff spot in a Pacific Division where it’s up for grabs.
Could Kane and the money phone make a splash in Vegas for a couple months? The Golden Knights have cap room, and if they’re going to turn into buyers ahead of their playoff push, Kane could boost an already high-scoring offense. But Vegas isn’t jeopardizing its future to meet Botterill’s demands.
Hell, it’s unlikely any of these teams meet that asking price. It simply needs to come down (perhaps a first-rounder and a prospect with a pick that has conditions strapped to it?).
Regardless of the return, the process will be interesting over the coming weeks.
Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck