Buffalo, NY- Tim Murray wasted little time landing Evander Kane as part of a mega-deal with the Winnipeg Jets early Wednesday. The embattled winger had season ending shoulder surgery and will not be able to contribute this year. However, that wasn’t a deterrent in moving forward on the transaction in Murray’s eyes.
Kane had been a familiar name in trade rumors, not just this season but in prior years. Things came to an abrupt ending in Winnipeg last week when his relationship with teammates began to sour, publicly. Head Coach Paul Maurice made Kane a healthy scratch during a recent trip to Vancouver for a violation of team rules. He showed up to a team meeting wearing a track suit. This wasn’t the first time he was a healthy scratch under Maurice, he sat Kane last season in a game verse Toronto.
Additionally he has been playing hurt, after the circus act in Vancouver, Kane elected to have the surgery, effectively shutting down for the remainder of the year. Which tells you the rift between player, teammate and coach was severely strained.
So, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff ( a familiar face at First Niagara Center recently) put the word out that he was accepting offers for the young, prolific goal scorer. The Sabres ultimately had the winning bid, and it was costly. Along with Kane the Sabres will receive defenseman Zach Bogosian and a prospect, goaltender Jason Kasdorf. The Jets will receive forward Drew Stafford and blue-liner Tyler Myers, prospects Joel Armia (AHL-Rochester) and Brendan Lemieux (OHL-Barrie) and a first-round draft pick in the 2015 NHL draft.
So ultimately the Sabres gave up two players that can contribute immediately, another two young prospects expected to be top six forwards and a first-round pick. It will be a late first-rounder, presumably the pick they acquired from the New York Islanders. In return they have a solid two-way playing defenseman in Bogosian, a young minor league goalie and a player with character issues that will not take the ice with his new team until late Summer.
On paper this looks like a landslide victory for Chevaldayoff and Winnipeg. They had to move Kane, that was obvious. Will this trade pay off quickly for the Jets is the question. Myers was playing top minutes in Buffalo, he will be expected to do the same in Winnipeg. He’ll have help though, he won’t have to be “the guy”. The Jets have Mark Stuart, Jacob Trouba and Dustin Byfuglien on the blue line. Although Byufglien has played right-wing recently, that remains to be seen if Maurice will keep him up.
The Jets are expected to compete for a playoff position, the moves they made today will help them make a push for the final spot. They currently sit in the driver’s seat, holding down the first wild card spot in the Western Conference. Stafford is in a contract year, he’s a rental piece. Similar to Kane in one aspect, he needed a change of scenery. He had been rumored to be a part of a deal with the Dallas Stars and former Sabres coach Lindy Ruff.
The Sabres general manager wasn’t concerned with Kane’s recent squabble and captain Brian Gionta said “he’s got a clean slate with us”. Murray went further “I would expect a guy who plays hard on the ice might have a little of that off it as well”. Murray said of both Bogosian and Kane “They are hard to play against and I want us to be hard to play against.”
Lemieux was an interesting piece of the puzzle. He’s having a phenomenal season with the Colts. Concern about being able to sign him to a pro-contract came to the forefront and attempts to sign Lemieux had been unsuccessful. Rumors were flying that his Father Claude did not want his son to play in Buffalo. Either way, Murray didn’t think the top pick of the 2nd round in 2014 would be ready for the NHL next year.
Just a couple of hours after Murray addressed the media he made another deal sending Jhonas Enroth to Dallas in exchange for Anders Lindback and a conditional 3rd round pick in 2015. Should the Stars reach the playoffs and Enroth wins 4 games, the pick becomes a 2nd rounder. Lindback and the Stars were in Buffalo this past Saturday in Buffalo’s 3-2 victory. He’s in his fifth NHL season having played in Nashville and Tampa before signing a one-year deal with Dallas.
Murray isn’t done and is on record as saying he would like to move all pending UFA’s before the deadline. Patrick Kaleta, Torrey Mitchell, Chris Stewart, Tyson Strachan and Andrej Meszaros are all expected to be moved before the March 2nd deadline.