First the Buffalo Sabres have to hire a general manager.
But once they do, the clock on an Evander Kane decision will be ticking.
Is this a guy the Sabres want to sign long term? Or is he best deployed as a trade chip to bolster their roster elsewhere?
Kane is eligible to ink an extension on July 1. The 25-year-old winger can become an unrestricted free agent next summer, and the Sabres definitely can’t afford to let him walk away for nothing. They either have to sign him or trade him.
Keeping him is certainly one option, because it’s not easy to find players like Kane. He’s big. He can move. Most importantly, he can score.
But coming off a 28-goal season, and with the charges from last summer’s bar incident having been dropped, Kane’s trade value may be higher than it’s been in a while.
It’s hard to say exactly what he’s worth, what with all the off-ice incidents in his past. But the Sabres are desperate to upgrade their back end, and trading Kane could be one way to achieve that. (Days before he was fired, Tim Murray said he’d explore “any avenue” to fix the defense.)
There’s also the possibility that Kane doesn’t want to sign long term in Buffalo. He didn’t choose to get traded there, just like he didn’t choose to get drafted by Atlanta and move to Winnipeg. Perhaps he’d like another change of scenery.
Next summer, he could have the right to pursue a contract with any team in the league.