Tim Murray hasn’t shied away from big trades in his first calendar year as the Buffalo Sabres general manager. Wednesday was no exception.
At around 1 p.m., the team announced that it had acquired forward Evander Kane, defenseman Zach Bogosian and goaltending prospect Jason Kasdorf from the Winnipeg Jets for defenseman Tyler Myers, right wing Drew Stafford, prospects Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux and a first-round pick. The pick will either be the one Buffalo acquired from the St. Louis Blues or from the New York Islanders, whichever is later.
Then at 4:30 p.m., a trade was completed with the Dallas Stars. Buffalo received goaltender Anders Lindback and a conditional third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft for goaltender Jhonas Enroth.
The full effects of the first trade won’t be felt by the Sabres this season as Kane will miss the rest of the year due to surgery to repair a torn labrum. The former 30-goal scorer is expected to be ready by the start of training camp.
However, when he’s healthy, Murray expects him to have a huge impact on the ice.
“I’m confident that he wanted a change of scenery and in his mind, probably wanted a more important role,” Murray said during a press conference at First Niagara Center. “I think we’ve certainly given him the change of scenery today and I think we can give him a more important role. He can be an important guy here. He’s going to be a big part of any success we have, I believe.”
Kane, 23, was drafted fourth overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2009 and has amassed 222 points (109+113) in 361 games with the franchise. In 2011-12, he led the Jets with 30 goals and, at 20 years old, was the NHL’s youngest 30-goal scorer that season. During the lockout shortened season, he had 17 goals in 48 games, which would equate to about 29 goals in an 82-game season.
At 6-foot-2, 198 pounds, the Sabres have a big tough wing that can play on one of their top two lines.
“You watch him play on the ice, he plays hard,” Murray said. “He plays in traffic. He doesn’t play a perimeter game. He plays a heavy game. He scores goals from around the net. He plays the game right and he finishes checks. He’s a good fighter – I don’t know how much I want him fighting – but that’s what he is. That’s his character on the ice.”
The NHL Trade Deadline is set for 3 p.m. on March 2.
'A CLEAN SLATE'
Kane’s tenure in Winnipeg ended unceremoniously. He was scratched from his final game on Feb. 3 before deciding to have shoulder surgery. Sabres captain Brian Gionta isn’t worried about any perceived character issues.
“It’s a clean slate. Nobody knows his situation that’s happened in the past. And coming in, he’s going to be accepted and brought into the room,” Gionta said. “We’re obviously excited. It’s a move that is made for the future and it’s great to have a guy with his skill set.
“There’s no opinion, pre-conceived notion coming in. You can’t work based off of rumors. Whether they’re good rumors or bad rumors, regardless of what they are, it’s not how the individual is coming in.
“He’ll be treated like else. He and Bogosian will both be accepted in and be part of this team from Day One.”
Bogosian, a native of Messina, N.Y., was also a Top Five pick by the Thrashers. He was selected third overall in 2008, behind only Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty. Over seven seasons, he’s recorded 127 points (40+87) and 325 penalty minutes in 393 career NHL games.
“He’s a big, strong, athletic kid who plays hard, has a ton of character in my estimation, has leadership qualities,” Murray said. “I’ve liked him since probably the first game I saw him as an amateur player. I think both guys bring multiple dimensions, but the one dimension they both bring is they’re hard to play against and they make us as a team hard to play against. I guess I’m a fan of that.”
“…I believe in these two players. I think that they make us a better organization and a better team.”
Kasdorf is a 6-foot-3, 178-pound goaltender who is currently playing for the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he earned ECAC Rookie of the Year honors in 2012-13. He was drafted by Winnipeg in the sixth round (157th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft.
WINDS OF CHANGE
Moving Myers signals a significant shift for the Sabres. He was leading the team in ice time this season and playing a pivotal role in all situations. He won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year in 2010. Stafford has been with the organization since 2004, when the teams drafted him in the first round, and is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
“I’m sure [they] were saddened today a little bit by what happened,” Murray said. “I talked to both of them and I’m sure it’s going to be a tough day on those guys and their families. We certainly wish them all the best.”
Tyler Ennis was drafted in the first round with Myers in 2008 and the two have become close friends since that time.
"I was just thinking how fast time goes by. It seems like just the other day, we were drafted together so we have a lot of fond memories together,” Ennis said. "At the same time, that’s hockey. It happens a lot. There have been a lot of changes here the last few years so those things happen.
“…You can’t ever be content with being in the bottom so changes are always going to happen when you’re in the bottom.”
Myers, Ennis, Kane and Cody Hodgson won gold medals together with the 2009 Canadian World Junior Championship team.
This deal wasn’t the first blockbuster Murray has made.
Last February, Murray worked with the St. Louis Blues on a trade that involved a four big-name players in Ryan Miller, Steve Ott and Chris Stewart and Jaroslav Halak, a prospect in William Carrier and a first-round pick and a conditional pick that ended up being a third-rounder.
It’s one of many changes that have impacted the team over the past three seasons. The players hope that everything that is happening will lead to a brighter future for the franchise.
“I’ve been through a lot in the past three years,” Sabres forward Marcus Foligno said. “There’s been a lot of movement since I’ve been in this organization and it’s just what happens when you’re at the bottom and you’ve got to find ways to build. Things have been moved around lately, but hopefully we can find some stability now where we’re headed in the right direction.”
STILL A DEEP POOL
In trading away Armia, a first-round pick in 2011, and Lemieux, the 31st overall selection in 2013, the Sabres gave up some depth in their prospect ranks for two more mature players who are still establishing themselves in the League.
Murray, however, is still very optimistic about the talent coming up through the pipeline and said the organization still plans on bringing more young players into the fold.
“We have guys sprinkled throughout junior hockey and throughout college hockey and in the American League that are good prospects,” he said. “…We try to guide them to be the best they can. That’s what player development is and since I got here, we’ve put a big emphasis on that.
“And that’s your future. Whether your future’s tomorrow or five years from now, these guys fit in the future somewhere.”