The Evander Kane saga with the Winnipeg Jets has come to an end, as the team traded him along with defenceman Zach Bogosian plus goalie Jason Kasdorf to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux and a first-round pick.
Buffalo has three first-round picks in the upcoming 2015 NHL Draft. The pick the Jets receive will be the lowest of the three first rounders.
Kane had spent his entire NHL career with the Jets/Thrashers franchise after being selected fourth overall by the Atlanta in 2009, however in recent weeks he had become a distraction to a team fighting for a playoff spot. It became evident the 23-year-old had played his final games with the Jets after an incident with teammates made national headlines.
“Evander Kane is a tremendous hockey player. We certainly wish him the best,” Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said at a press conference Wednesday.
The Vancouver native had 10 goals, 12 assists and 56 penalty minutes in 37 games with the Jets this season. In 361 career NHL games he has 109 goals, 113 assists and 385 penalty minutes. Among players from the 2009 draft class, only John Tavares and Matt Duchene have more points than Kane.
The left winger won’t be available to the Sabres until next season after electing to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery last weekend.
“Having a deal come together like this, in the salary cap world, is very difficult,” Cheveldayoff said. “We think it’s something that’s going to help us in the short-term and in the long-term as well.”
Like Kane, Bogosian has been with the Jets/Thrashers franchise since he was drafted by the team third overall in 2008. The six-foot-three, 225-pound blueliner has three goals, 10 assists and 40 penalty minutes in 41 games this season. Bogosian, who has been plagued with injuries the past few seasons, has four years remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $5.143 million.
Myers’s name had been involved in trade rumours all season. The six-foot-eight defenceman has 13 points, 61 penalty minutes and a minus-15 rating in 47 games this season and as of Wednesday afternoon ranked 12th in the NHL in ice-time averaging 25:03 per game. The 25-year-old has four years remaining on a front-loaded seven-year, $38.5-million extension he inked in 2011. This season and next he’ll make $5 million annually, followed by salaries of $4 million, $3.5 million and $3 million — his actual cap hit is $5.5 million.
Stafford, who has nine goals and 24 points in 50 games this season, is a pending unrestricted free agent. The Sabres will retain half of Stafford’s remaining salary, according to ESPN’s Craig Custance.
“I’m first and foremost looking forward to joining a team in the playoff hunt,” Stafford told Hockey Central at Noon on Sportsnet 590 The Fan.
Stafford added that he expects to be in the Jets lineup Thursday when they visit the Nashville Predators.
Lemieux, 18, was the Sabres’ second pick last summer. The Barrie Colts power forward has 35 goals in 46 games in junior this year. In his three seasons in the Ontario Hockey League, Lemieux has 117 points (68 goals, 49 assists) and 317 penalty minutes in 153 games.
“He’s got a real sense of purpose with everything he does,” said Cheveldayoff, who added the Jets had their eye on Lemieux at the 2014 draft.
Armia was drafted 16th overall by the Sabres in 2011. The 21-year-old Pori, Finland native has 25 points in 33 games with the Rochester Americans in the American Hockey League this season.
In other Jets news, the team re-assigned forward Patrice Cormier to the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps.
Kasdorf, a Winnipeg native, was drafted by the Jets 157th overall in 2011. The 22-year-old netminder is currently playing at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.