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Kane focused on Sabres, not Trade Deadline

Forward trying to tune out rumors, enjoy time in Buffalo while it lasts

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / NHL.com Staff Writer

BOSTON -- The days are rapidly ticking down toward Feb. 26, the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline. Fifteen of them remain. Fifteen days between where forward Evander Kane is now, and where he might be in the future, on another team, in another city, an unknown destination. 

With the Buffalo Sabres last in the Eastern Conference and second to last in the League with 42 points in 55 games, it's clear that the best use for Kane is as a trade chip, with him set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and no Stanley Cup Playoffs ahead in Buffalo. 

That is an uneasy place to be for any player. But it is also not new for Kane. The speculation has been there for a long time, even if it only gets more pressing by the day. 

"I've dealt with it kind of all season," Kane said at TD Garden on Saturday. "Things are getting a little tighter, with the time, but I'm just focused on taking it one game at a time and focusing on my time here."

Video: BUF@BOS: Kane snaps wrister past Rask on breakaway

It is not as if Kane doesn't know what it's like to be traded. It was exactly three years ago that he was sent from the Winnipeg Jets to the Sabres in a trade that also included defenseman Zach Bogosian. 

And he's doing his best to keep tabs on the situation, as much as he can without driving himself crazy.

"I think I'm probably the most well-informed guy when it comes to these type of things, the rumors, obviously you're aware of what's going on and what's being said," said Kane, whose Sabres will play the the Colorado Avalanche at KeyBank Center on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, ALT, NHL.TV). "But I'm really not focused on that. If and when that time comes, then I'll be able to answer those questions. But for right now I'm really just focused on taking it day by day and game by game moving forward."

It has been three mostly unfulfilling seasons in Buffalo for Kane, though he has 115 points (65 goals, 50 assists) in his 190 games with the Sabres, including 37 points (17 goals, 20 assists) this season. The Sabres have not made the postseason in his tenure, a drought that goes back to the 2010-2011 season, and Kane has yet to play in a playoff game in his NHL career. 

That could change soon. 

A number of contenders are rumored to be in the mix for Kane, including the Columbus Blue Jackets, the San Jose Sharks, the St. Louis Blues, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Calgary Flames and the Minnesota Wild. It's also possible a team like Kane's hometown Vancouver Canucks could trade for him, assuming they would get a leg up on re-signing to a contract this summer. 

For now, as Kane said, "I'm not holding my breath."

He isn't getting out of bed, wondering if today might be the day he's traded. He is trying not to think about it, while trying to focus on the Sabres, on his here-and-now, all while his future is dangling in front of him.

Video: BUF@MIN: Kane sneaks in a goal for 16th of season

"Yeah," he said, when asked if it was difficult to be in his situation. "It's definitely not easy, but it's part of what you have to do as a pro."

That's something that has been recognized by those around him, how he handling things, how he's reacting to the uncertainty and the impending deadline, the questions that come in each city he visits. 

"I think he's really trying to work through it, especially the position he's in," Sabres coach Phil Housley said before the Sabres' 4-2 win against the Boston Bruins on Saturday. "He's hit some posts. He's had some bad luck, but he's just got to find a way to continue to work through it, use his speed."

It had been a rough go of late for Kane, until his luck changed a bit on Saturday. Kane scored the first goal for the Sabres, a breakaway that started off a much-needed win over the red-hot Bruins. Before that goal, Kane had not tallied a point in 10 games and had not scored in 14, since a goal on Jan. 4 against the Wild. 

It's possible that the pressure and the unknown is weighing on him, even if he's not admitting it. It's also possible that downturn in play could affect the return that the Sabres can get for the forward. 

He was clearly relieved on Saturday, after the game and the goal.

"I've been looking for that for a while, so it was nice to put one in the net and hopefully it starts a streak," Kane said.

That would be optimal. It would allow him to concentrate on what's in front of him, not on what might be. When a trade comes -- if it comes -- then he will figure out where to go from there. Then, he can determine how to feel and what to do. 

He laughed at a question about his time in Buffalo, adding, "We're talking like it's over right now, and it's not."

But it might be soon. That's what Kane is facing right now, and what he'll continue to face until a trade is completed or until those 15 days tick down to nothing. 

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