Well, it’s a biggie.
Though to be accurate, “biggie” doesn’t fully encapsulate what the Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets have pulled off — on Wednesday, the two sides completed a blockbuster deal, which looks like this:
To Buffalo: Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Jason Kasdorf.
To Winnipeg: Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux and 2015 first-round pick.
The biggest piece of the deal is Kane, the disgruntled power forward that all but shipped himself out of Winnipeg last week after failing to show up for a game against Vancouver following an (alleged) altercation with teammate Dustin Byfuglien.
A former 30-goal scorer, Kane is a tantalizing talent that comes with baggage — and a surgically repaired shoulder, one that will sideline him for the remainder of the regular season.
As for the rest of the principles:
• Bogosian, 24, will immediately become Buffalo’s top defenseman. Currently in the second of a seven-year, $36 million deal, the rugged blueliner — a New York native — will likely be employed in a “do-everything” role for the Sabres, which could see him get back to the offensive production he showed in 2011-12, when he posted a career-high 30 points in just 65 games played.
• Myers, 25, goes off the market after being one of the most sought-after deadline targets. The former Calder Trophy winner cuts an imposing figure — 6-foot-8, 227 pounds — and will give Winnipeg another physically imposing rearguard, along with the 6-foot-5, 260-pound Byfuglien.
• Stafford, 29, is a UFA at season’s end and will give Winnipeg some forward depth. A three-time 20-goal scorer, Stafford was Buffalo’s third-leading scorer this year (25 points in 50 games).
• Armia, 21, was Buffalo’s first-round pick (16th overall) at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. A promising talent, the Finnish winger has played just one game at the NHL level this year but has looked good in AHL Rochester, scoring 10 goals and 25 points in 33 games.
• Lemieux, 18, is another intriguing prospect. The son of longtime NHLer Claude Lemieux, Brenden was taken 31st overall at the ’14 Draft and has been a big-time contributor for OHL Barrier this year, sitting second on the team in goals (with 35) while leading in PIM (with 120).
• Kasdorf, 22, was Winnipeg’s sixth-round pick at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. A goalie currently playing NCAA hockey at R.P.I., Kasdorf is 9-14-0 this season with a 2.94 GAA and .900 save percentage.
As for the first-round pick, TSN’s Darren Dreger reports the one heading to Winnipeg is the lowest of Buffalo’s three at this year’s draft. The Sabres hold their own, along with the Islanders’ (from the Thomas Vanek-Matt Moulson trade) and the Blues’ (from the Ryan Miller trade).
Per the Buffalo news, the Sabres are retaining half of Stafford’s $4 million salary in the trade.