Evander Kane has not been approached by the Buffalo Sabres to talk about a new contract, making it likely the forward will be traded prior to the NHL Trade Deadline next month, The Buffalo News reported Thursday.
Kane, playing the final season of a six-year, $31.25 million contract he signed with the Winnipeg Jets, told the newspaper he would have entered negotiations to stay in Buffalo had they been offered.
"Of course I would have. Absolutely," the 26-year-old said. "I've said from Day One I've really enjoyed the time here. For me, it's a place where I've grown to know more and more about Buffalo. It's been a real great experience for me. I'm just going to continue that until I get told something different."
The Sabres are looking for as many as four pieces (players and/or NHL Draft picks) in a trade for Kane, TSN reported Tuesday. The News said Buffalo is willing to retain part of Kane's salary. The trade deadline is Feb. 26.
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"Does it surprise me? Well, I've said many times nothing really surprises me," Kane said of the lack of contract talks. "This is all part of the business. Both sides. We're in different situations and I understand it all. One thing I've always said is that I've really, really enjoyed my time here and will continue to do so for as long as I'm here. My focus is simply game to game, keeping the focus narrow."
Sabres general manager Jason Botterill did not comment to the News on Kane's situation. The newspaper said Botterill, in his first season, "has been consistent with the message that he will trade players on expiring contracts to reclaim assets rather than have them leave for nothing in free agency."
"I'm aware of what's going on," Kane said. "I stay fully aware of my situation even though I don't necessarily do a lot of reading. I'm in the loop. I don't think there's anybody in the loop more than myself and my agents."
Kane had 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists) in 45 games this season, his third with Buffalo. He has 336 points (173 goals, 163 assists) in 541 NHL games with the Sabres and Jets/Atlanta Thrashers.