The Sabres and Jason Botterill will have their work cut out for them. After a reported high asking price, Evander Kane has cooled off as of late after a hot start, and the timing could not be worse with the NHL Trade Deadline right around the corner. Kane has scored just three goals since the new year.
On the latest TSN Trade Bait List, Evander Kane was supplanted by veteran New York Rangers forward Rick Nash. Aside from Evander Kane cooling off, Nash has been slightly more productive since the new year. He has posted eight goals since that time, and although he has had a very up down season offensively, he’s been producing at the right time.
Although Evander Kane will still have value at the deadline, Buffalo will have some increased competition. As always, the trade market, just like the stock market, can be unpredictable.
What could appeal about Rick Nash over Evander Kane?
There is one particular area where Nash can really help most teams. How many playoff games has Rick Nash played in during his career?
Nash has played in 77 career playoff games, including a Stanley Cup Finals appearance. Evander Kane has never played in a playoff game, and many teams looking for a deadline rental certainly covet that kind of experience.
The Rangers, just like the Sabres, also have the ability to retain salary on a portion of Nash’s salary, although Nash does have a bigger contract. Nash is making 7.8 million this season and is in the final year of an eight-year, 62 million dollar contract that he originally signed with Columbus. Even though Nash is not the 40 goal scorer he once was, he still is a tremendous two-way forward who would be a great fit on a team like Toronto in their top nine. Nash is also still a strong possession forward. As an added bonus, Nash is also versatile enough to the lineup on the right wing, although his best and more natural position is the left wing.
If you’re buying Rick Nash, you’re buying a capable secondary scorer at this stage of his career, and a guy who provides plenty of two-way ability and most importantly experience. Guys who have the experience are invaluable, especially if you have a younger team. Nash will bring leadership to any locker room he goes into, which is part of the reason why so many teams have inquired about Nash. Nash has 17 goals in 57 games this year, whereas Kane has 18 goals in 57 games.
What would Kane bring over Nash?
Even though he hasn’t been as hot as when the season first started, Kane has many attractive traits to his game. Evander Kane is also a strong possession forward, who is younger and has tremendous speed. He’s has had a history of being a streaky goal scorer in his career. He recently snapped a 14 game scoring drought. Last season Kane went on a twelve game scoring drought to start the season.
During the 2013-14 season with Winnipeg, Kane had a stretch where he one goal in 13 games. To be fair, Nash at this stage of his career has also been streaky as well, but what are we paying for at the deadline? If you’re buying Evander Kane and paying top dollar, you’re paying primarily for the goal scoring. The secondary item you are buying with Kane is the speed and grit as a power forward in the playoffs. He doesn’t have a single game of playoff experience. He is not going to come into a locker room and provide the strong leadership of a ten-year veteran forward and provide immense playoff experience.
However, he has not been the locker room cancer many fans across the league have labeled him as because of his time in Winnipeg. As a rental. Kane is a great option, but I would definitely understand the concern of signing him to a seven-year deal in free agency based on his injury history alone. Luckily this year, he has stayed healthy. Personally, I think Kane is going to find that a lot of teams might be hesitant to pay him top dollar for a lot of years in free agency. I would not be surprised if he was a player who went well past July 1st without a contract.
Kane also does have a couple other disadvantages. You would think he’d be a strong power play goal scorer and contributor, but that has not been the case since he’s been here. He had three powerplay goals last year when the power play was number one in the league. This year, Kane has just two goals, but his six assists with the man advantage are a career high. Still, it’s not much to write home about and many teams do covet those skills.
He is as we all know in Buffalo, a very strong even strength player, and can score in five on five situations, although he is also a low percentage shooter shooting at a career average of nine percent while relying on a heavy volume of shots.
The Other Available Trade Options
Mike Hoffman, Patrick Maroon, Michael Grabner, and Max Pacioretty are also available, in the top ten of TSN’s Trade Bait list. Patrick Maroon is an interesting one, and of all the top wingers, Maroon may be the cheapest for teams looking for the depth. I would not be stunned to see a team like Boston or St. Louis make a run at Maroon. A benefit to a team like St. Louis for Maroon is that they wouldn’t have to surrender one of their coveted prospects like Jordan Kyrou.
Michael Grabner has been reported to be available for a first-round pick, but his best fit will be a bottom six scoring winger with speed. He has a high price tag set at a first round pick.
Max Pacioretty, the Canadiens captain is a long-term rental option, and prior to this year, he’s posted four straight 30 goal, 60 point seasons. Because of the extra year on his deal and past production, Pacioretty should be worth slightly more than Kane or Nash.
Derick Brassard will appeal to teams looking for center help. But the reported asking price is also very high, and he still has an additional year left. Pierre LeBrun tweeted on the 12th that the asking price is a first round pick, top prospect, plus a third piece.
Mike Hoffman should be the most expensive winger available, even more so than Rick Nash or Evander Kane because he has two more years left after this year. For a three-time 25 goal scorer, and a guy who could get 20-25 goals again this year, as well as being a good possession driver, he should have a big price tag for the contract he has. 5.1 million for the next two years is a major bargain. If you’re a team like St.Louis and you do surrender a top prospect, this would be the type of player you’d want to get in return for a guy like Kyrou. If you’re a team like Calgary and you lack the draft assets to move out in a deal for a guy like Kane or Pacioretty, Hoffman could be a good option to move for your better organizational prospects. Of course, Hoffman has a modified no-trade clause as does Rick Nash.
There will be plenty of competition for scoring on the open market. If I were ranking the top available forwards in terms of the cost to obtain them, it would be the following:
1.) Mike Hoffman
2.) Derick Brassard
3.) Max Pacioretty
4.) Rick Nash
5.) Evander Kane
6.) Michael Grabner
I have Hoffman first because of his bargain contract, and the term left on his deal. I have Brassard second because of him having one more year left, and because of the position, he plays as a center. After Derick Brassard, the next best center available is Mark Letestu.
Pacioretty I have third because of his recent scoring history in the league, as well as him not being limited by any type of an NTC or NMC. He has one more year left on his deal, and also has 38 games of playoff experience.
I have Nash and Kane fourth, and fifth respectively. I think the cost could end up being more to obtain Nash than Kane given the spike in interest for Rick Nash of late. The question is, which one of those players will actually be moved? Ottawa and Montreal can afford to wait as their players have term left. I think Pacioretty has the next best chance to be moved, as well as Brassard, but Ottawa and Montreal can wait for the right offer if they choose to.
The Sabres and Rangers do not have much of a bargaining position because of the expiring contracts. I think Brassard, Hoffman, and Pacioretty will be the toughest to acquire if the asking price is what I think it will be, and therefore could put team’s efforts on Nash, Kane, and a guy like Patrick Maroon who can play in the top six, but will be cheaper.
There will be plenty of buyers available, but the question is, will any of the sellers come down on their prices, in particular, the sellers with the rental options like Buffalo and the Rangers? More importantly, will any of the buyers bite on one of the asking prices?
If you caught my last article, I broke down how the Sabres and Flyers could work as trade partners. I did not want to imply that Kane (and Lehner) were going to Philly and that this was happening as things can be taken out of context, but that there could be interest and I threw some ideas out there for what I thought Buffalo’s asking price would be if they moved any of those guys. It may be a high price for the big pieces and just ideas, but it does not mean they would ever get it, and any discussions would probably focused on more minor pieces such as Chad Johnson, maybe Robin Lehner depending on team needs. If a team like Philly did such a deal which included Kane, it would be because they feel they are close.
Any team that deals for Kane will be doing so because they believe they are close and ready to go win it all. So if you’re a team like the Blues, Penguins, Sharks, Predators, Evander Kane is a great option if you believe you are close.
There is going to be quite a game going on between many teams at the deadline, and with all that’s in play, I would not be surprised if the Sabres walked away with a pair of seconds and a couple B level prospects for Kane, and like many Sabre fans, I hope this is not true. But with his two-way play, leadership, and experience, Rick Nash is more than worthy of being labeled as the top trade target on the market.
If you’re a GM, who is your top forward trade target?
This poll is closed