Latest on Evander Kane, plus updates on the Canadiens, Oilers and Kings.
Is an Evander Kane trade inevitable?
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Tim Campbell reports agent Craig Oster, who represents Jets winger Evander Kane, said the topic of a trade has been discussed several times by his client and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. “It’s something that Kevin and Evander have addressed multiple times in the past several years, and I’ll leave it at that,” Oster said. “I think in response, Evander is a Jet and will continue to be a Jet until his contract is now renewed or he’s traded.” Campbell writes that nobody has denied it, but also reports Jets sources claims the idea the two discussed a trade this season is not untrue. In the wake of the latest Kane brouhaha (“Tracksuitgate”) and his season-ending shoulder surgery, Campbell believes trading the winger is the only solution for the Jets.
WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe reports Oster also denied his client has undergone shoulder surgery to force the Jets to trade him.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Mike Harrington notes the speculation a team out of playoff contention with cap space and assets to move could make a pitch for Evander Kane, despite his season-ending surgery. He notes the Sabres fall into that category. Harrington also speculates the New York Rangers, having lost starter Henrik Lundqvist for a month to a throat injury, could have interest in Sabres goalies Jhonas Enroth or Michal Neuvirth. He also notes recent rumors about a possible trade of defenseman Tyler Myers to the Anaheim Ducks, but points out the Sabres maintain they’re not shopping Myers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As I’ve noted before, Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is patient to a fault, but I think it’s run out regarding Kane. While there’s concern among some Jets followers that Kane could go on to become a superstar elsewhere while the Jets won’t get fair value, it appears he’s now worn out his welcome in Winnipeg.
Cheveldayoff could be pressured to move Kane now for a deal which helps the Jets clinch a playoff berth. I think there’s a better chance of getting a fair deal in the offseason, but if the Jets slide continues (they’ve dropped five in a row now), Cheveldayoff could pull the trigger. I think he was already planning to draw upon his blueline depth to add a top-nine forward before the Kane incident. It remains to be seen if he’ll also use Kane to further bolster his lineup for the rest of this season.
If Kane does hit the trade block it’s possible the Sabres could consider him, but they must determine if he’ll be a good fit with their rebuilding team. The Sabres have a young roster and there could be concerns over Kane’s influence.
Could the Canadiens target Kane or Vermette?
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Pat Hickey believes the Canadiens should be wary of pursuing Winnipeg’s Evander Kane, citing the possible expensive asking price, his less-than-stellar numbers and speculation Kane’s antics contributed to a dysfunctional organization in Winnipeg.
LA PRESSE: Richard Labbe reports the Canadiens are among the clubs with interest in Arizona Coyotes center Antoine Vermette. He notes the asking price for Vermette is believed to be a high draft pick and a prospect, pointing out GM Marc Bergevin swung a deal at last year’s deadline to land playoff rental Thomas Vanek.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane obviously won’t help the Canadiens this season. Hickey makes some worthwhile points, but I believe the biggest reason why the Habs shouldn’t pursue Kane is his antics will be toxic in a media fishbowl like Montreal. Every move and word would be headline news, providing an unnecessary distraction for the Habs. As for Vermette, he could be a good rental player for the Habs, provided the asking price isn’t ridiculous. I don’t know if Bergevin can land Vermette but I do expect him to make a move or two by the deadline.
Could the Oilers trade Fasth and re-sign Petry?
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Jonathan Willis wonders if there might be a trade market for Oilers goalie (and pending free agent) Viktor Fasth, whose play has improved in recent weeks under new coach Todd Nelson. Willis suggests the New York Islanders could be a destination, as backup goalie Chad Johnson has really struggled this season. Another option could be the Washington Capitals, though they’ve got Philipp Grubauer in their system. Less likely options are Tampa Bay and Minnesota.
David Staples believes if there’s any kind of reasonable deal to be had, the Oilers need to re-sign defenseman Jeff Petry, who’s a UFA in July.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree with Willis that Fasth’s improved play could improve his trade value, and concur the Islanders would be a good destination. Indeed, it’s probably the only one. The Caps called up Grubauer for last night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks and he was solid in a 3-2 win. The Bolts have depth in promising goalies and the Wild have a log jam in their crease so rule them out. The New York Rangers are believed in the market for a short-term backup for Cam Talbot, who’s stepping into the starter’s role with Henrik Lundqvist out for a month with a throat injury. As for Petry, I think he’s a goner. I don’t believe he’s willing to re-sign with a floundering team that’s going nowhere fast.
Kings unable to make moves?
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Lisa Dillman reports uncertainty over defenseman Slava Voynov’s legal situation (he’s facing a felony domestic violence charge and slated for trial on March 2) and uncertainty over next season’s salary-cap numbers are making it difficult for the Kings to make trades leading up to the deadline.