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Healthy Kane excited for upcoming season

Sabres forward missed 27 games with injuries in 2015-16 but is ready to go

by Joe Yerdon / Correspondent

BUFFALO -- Evander Kane had his first season with the Buffalo Sabres end prematurely because of a hand injury, but now he's excited and healthy for 2016-17.

Kane participated in the Prospects Youth Clinic at HarborCenter alongside four of the top prospects in the 2016 NHL Draft: Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, Matthew Tkachuk and Pierre-Luc Dubois. The clinic followed a season when Kane scored 20 goals in 65 games and helped the Sabres improve from 23-51-8 in 2014-15 to 35-36-11 this season.

Kane is eager to see what Sabres general manager Tim Murray will do next.

"Tim's a very unique character; I think it's served him well," Kane said. "I think he does a great job. I think he's done a great job so far of building our team, and I'm sure he's looking to add and make us better. As a player, that's really all you can ask for and it's up to us to use what he brings in to the best of our advantage."

During the 2015 draft, Murray acquired goalie Robin Lehner from the Ottawa Senators and center Ryan O'Reilly from the Colorado Avalanche. Making bold moves to improve the Sabres and get them back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since the 2010-11 season is something Kane likes.

"You don't see a whole lot of big trades or big moves or really anything like that too much," Kane said. "But you know, Tim is one of those guys that's had the opportunity to do those things."

Video: COL@BUF: Kane roofs one by Varlamov from deep

Kane is coming back from a season that saw him miss 27 games. He injured his hand against the Detroit Red Wings on March 28 and missed the final six games of the season. He also missed a month because of a knee injury he sustained Oct. 24 against the New Jersey Devils. Now he's healthy and ready to go.

"Everything is good," Kane said. "It's nice to kind of get back in the gym and get back to doing what I was doing. It's been a long time since I could do what I normally do in an offseason. I'm feeling good, feeling healthy and looking forward to getting to camp."

Kane skated and participated in the clinic on Thursday, showing no ill effects from his hand injury. He was eager to be on the ice with potential divisional rival Matthews, who is projected to be the No. 1 pick in the draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"You know, I was thinking about maybe giving him a little bump out there into the boards," Kane said with a smile. "Who knows what happens? That Laine kid, I think he has a chance to go first out there, according to him. We'll see what happens."

Part of the Sabres' plan next season may involve Harvard forward Jimmy Vesey, the 2016 Hobey Baker Award winner. Buffalo acquired the rights to Vesey from the Nashville Predators on Monday in exchange for a third-round pick (No. 76) in the draft. The Sabres have until Aug. 15 to sign Vesey before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. If Kane had to offer his best recruiting pitch to get Vesey to sign, he knows what it would be.

"Great ownership, and that's very important," Kane said. "We're very lucky in that regard. We have really great management, and we have a really tight group in the locker room. I see us going in a big direction moving forward here. [It's] something to look forward to and for me that's why I'm here, and that's what makes me excited."

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