On February 11, 2015 the Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets completed a blockbuster deal that saw scoring forward Evander Kane move south to Buffalo along with defenseman Zach Bogosian and other pieces.
In exchange for the winger, Buffalo sent Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, a first round pick and prospects Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux.
Kane had wanted out of Winnipeg every year since the team relocated from Atlanta in 2011. It wasn’t until a reported incident involving his gear being thrown into the shower that ultimately led to him being shipped out of Manitoba. It was a welcomed move for both player and franchise that landed a rebuilding Sabres franchise a player that has shown the potential to be a high-level goal scorer in the NHL.
Now that it’s been a year since the deal went down, it’s time to revisit the deal that shook up both franchises. Specifically, from the Sabres perspective.
Kane didn’t play for the Sabres until the start of the 2015-16 season, which helped the team continue it’s fall to the bottom of the standings in order to land Jack Eichel. It was clearly part of the plan for the future to trade away two producing players for a future piece that wouldn’t suit up until after the goal was reached.
Before getting into Kane, let’s take a look at the other roster piece in Bogosian. It always felt that he was part of a separate trade despite being included in the main one. It seemed that Stafford and a prospect was sent to the Jets for Bogosian, but that’s neither here nor there.
Bogosian played with the team right after being traded, showing the toughness that he was known for on the ice. This season, however, Bogosian has been one of the most inconsistent defenseman on the roster since returning from injury earlier in the year.
His play has warranted a spot more along the lines of a bottom pairing blueliner than the top four player that the team expects him to be. It’s led to talk of the team trying to trade him, but finding a taker for his contract — four more years at $5.1 million per season — is a whole other story.
Kane has also had his own share of injury issues since coming back from his shoulder. He’s been limited to just 44 games this season as of February 10, and has produced just 13 goals and eight assists for 21 points. For a player that said, during training camp, that there weren’t any reasons why he couldn’t score at least 40 goals, the production has not been what anyone has expected. Of course, the offense on the team as a whole has been disappointing since, even with just 21 points, Kane is sixth on the team in scoring.
Off the ice, it has been somewhat of a mixed bag for Kane. Despite being labeled as an ego-driven individual, Kane has done a number of charitable events with groups like the Boys & Girls Club. On the negative side of things, Kane was the subject of a sexual assault investigation though nothing has been said about it in quite some time.
That being said, Kane has become beloved by more and more fans with each passing game just by the way he plays on the ice. From the constant hustle on the ice to the willingness to do the “dirty work”, Kane has become somewhat of a fan favorite. Even without the scoring production, it just feels like a matter of time before he really breaks through on the ice.
It’s obviously wrong to try and declare a winner or a loser in this deal after just one year. But, as of today, it’s clear that there is potential for something special to happen with Kane and the Sabres should head coach Dan Bylsma find a line combination that works with the 24-year old scorer.
Michael is a former Managing Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s covered the Buffalo Sabres, along with the NHL in general, for various outlets since 2009. His work has been featured on outlets such as Yahoo, Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports.