Evander Kane will see plenty of familiar faces, and some new ones, when the San Jose Sharks play the Buffalo Sabres at SAP Center on Thursday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSCA, MSG-B, NHL.TV).
It will be the first game against the Sabres for Kane, who spent three seasons in Buffalo before he was acquired by San Jose for forward Danny O'Regan and conditional first- and fourth-round picks in the 2019 NHL Draft on Feb. 26.
On May 24, he signed a seven-year contract extension with the Sharks with the hopes of winning a Stanley Cup in San Jose, something he never had an opportunity to do in Buffalo.
"There was always a lot of potential with our teams in Buffalo and we had a lot of young talent that, for some reason, just couldn't put it all together," Kane said. "We didn't get off to good starts and we kind of took the wind out of our own sails early in the year and it made for some long seasons.
"It was tough to be a part of those losing seasons, but I did have a lot of fun with the group of guys we had."
Video: SJS@LAK: Kane snipes one high on the short side
While Kane wishes he had a chance to enjoy more success in Buffalo, he feels fortunate to have the opportunity in San Jose.
Following the trade last season, Kane had 14 points (nine goals, five assists) in 17 regular-season games and five points (four goals, one assist) in nine Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Sharks.
It was the first time he experienced the excitement of the playoffs in nine NHL seasons.
"When I got to San Jose, it was kind of back to my own ways, because before I got to the NHL, I'd won everything you could win," Kane said. "It was just that winning culture, winning mentality, and that's one of the reasons I felt I fit in so seamlessly and so easy in San Jose. It's been a treat to be a part of so far."
Video: SJS@PHI: Kane redirects home PPG with his skate
But Kane also believes there is hope for the Sabres, who haven't made the playoffs since 2011.
Buffalo has bright, young prospects in defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, and forward Casey Mittelstadt, the No. 8 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, and upgraded their goaltending by signing Carter Hutton to a three-year contract July 1. The Sabres also named center Jack Eichel captain on Oct. 3, one year after he agreed to an eight-year, $80 million contract extension.
"There are great fans in Buffalo and they definitely deserve a better product than they've gotten over the years, but I'm not going to sit here and tell you I wish them more success than our own team," Kane said. "I think they're in for some better days and better times ahead with the talent they have, but I'm also pretty excited about our group here."
Kane, who was selected by the Atlanta Thrashers with the No. 4 pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, has 359 points (190 goals, 169 assists) in 580 games for the Thrashers, Winnipeg Jets, Sabres and Sharks. He has scored at least 20 goals four times in his career, including in each of the past three seasons, and had career highs in goals (30), assists (27) and points (57) with the Jets in 2011-12.
This season, Kane is tied with forward Kevin Labanc for the Sharks lead with five points, and leads them with four goals and 26 shots in six games. Coach Peter DeBoer has been pleased with Kane's approach and how he's set an example for the young players on the team.
"I talked to [Jets coach] Paul Maurice, who was Kane's coach in Winnipeg and is a good friend of mine, and he said, 'Listen, I never had an issue with this guy at the rink. He came, worked hard, practiced hard, played the right way,'" DeBoer said.
"There's some stuff away from the rink that the media got hold of and maybe caused some issues, and I'm sure those are things you learn from and mature with, but I've had no issues at all with Evander."
Video: SJS@PHI: Kane goes top shelf for second tally
For the Sharks, Kane's ability to impact the game beyond the box score is a bonus.
"What you don't see is him talking and keeping guys honest all the time during the game from the bench, and skating up to guys," DeBoer said. "He's doing that all the time for us. Guys have a tremendous amount of respect for him out there, and he creates a lot of room and keeps a lot of guys quiet because he's a really tough guy to tangle with if you end up in that spot."