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Sabres' Evander Kane sees '40 or 50' goals as doable

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- The past year for Evander Kane has been one he'd like to put behind him. The new start he'll get with the Buffalo Sabres is just the opportunity he's been seeking.

Kane spoke with the media Thursday at the first day of training camp at First Niagara Center and showed that his trademark confidence and swagger is still intact when he talked about what could happen if he stays healthy for a full season.

"If I can ever play 82 games … obviously I can score 30 goals. Will I is more the question," said Kane, who had 30 in 2011-12 as a 20-year-old with the Winnipeg Jets. "I hope to score as many goals as possible. Thirty is just kind of a set number. I've already scored 30. So maybe I want to score 40 or 50."

The Sabres haven't had a 30-goal scorer since Jason Pominville scored 30 in 2011-12.

Kane expressed his excitement to get a fresh start with the Sabres. He underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder Feb. 6, and the Jets traded him to the Sabres on Feb. 11.

"I feel like I'm just learning how to play hockey all over again," Kane said. "It's been a good last month for me getting back on the ice and getting the legs going, getting the speed going, getting the hands back a little bit. I'm sure there's going to be some rust throughout camp and through the preseason, especially having not played in eight, nine months. But by the time the regular season comes I'll be ready to go."

It's been more than seven months since he played his last game, so he's anxious to get back to hockey.

"I guess it gave me a little taste about what retirement would be like," Kane said. "Hopefully, that's in 13, 15 more years. Getting back on the ice, I think, it was kind of like starting something new. I'd been off … for the longest I'd ever been in my life. So just kind of getting that discipline back with training, kind of learning how to battle through the pain a little bit in terms of getting back into shape was tough. But I feel good."

Even though Kane has yet to play for the Sabres, his on-ice reputation precedes him.

"When I was in Colorado I got to play against him quite a bit. He's a great player," forward Ryan O'Reilly said. "You give him a chance and he's got his speed going, he's going to burn you. That's something that's nice to have on the team, especially on the wing. If you can get a guy like that the puck, he's going to make a lot happen. I'm really looking forward to playing with him."

Added Sabres captain Brian Gionta, "His speed, his breakaway ability. Going through that neutral zone, if he's catching it with speed, he's gone. Playing against him for years, that's something you try and safeguard against. … Let him take the [defense] wide and take his chances."

Kane is 24, but on what is expected to be a young Sabres roster, he'll be one of the veterans and will be counted on as a leader.

"I feel old. I don't feel 24. It's crazy going into my seventh season already," Kane said. "There's a lot of guys … [Zach Bogosian] is going into his eighth season already, guys like [Tyler] Ennis and guys like that, they've been around the League at a young age and for a while now. We're going to be expected to lead the way a little bit, and that's something you have to embrace and enjoy."

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