Sabres Could Use Kane but the Cost Could Be Too High

Patrick Kane has been a superstar in the NHL for over a decade, as he continually carries the load for the Chicago Blackhawks‘ offense season after season. With a rebuild well underway, it’s more than likely we will see Kane on the move for the first time in his career. Could the Buffalo Sabres have their eye on him?

Do the Sabres Make Sense for Kane?

Adding Kane to the Sabres makes a great deal of sense for both sides. They have not made the postseason in over a decade, and he would likely give them that chance once again. He would bolster the offensive game of any player they decide to pair him with, which is great for development. As for Kane, he gets to come to Buffalo, the place he was born. Both sides would no doubt have an interest in a move like this.

Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Bringing Patrick Kane home by trade would be something to heavily consider, especially with the possibility of him not being available by the time free agency in 2023 opens, but I believe the more likely outcome would be him signing a contract with the Sabres next offseason, as his current deal expires in 2023.

What Would it Cost to Trade for Kane?

While no official package has been leaked out as to what the Blackhawks might want for Kane, fans can only speculate that it would involve at least one first-round pick, a top prospect, and other additional assets.

Possible Trade Package

In the Sabres’ case, this would mean something like a first-round pick, one or two high-end prospects, and a roster player for Kane. Paired with him would have to be a reasonable contract extension for this to work for Buffalo. While it is true that this is a heavy price to pay for an aging winger, as long as Buffalo keeps him around for longer than the year left on his current contract, it’s not bad. If a trade were to occur, it would mean that Kevyn Adams is going to try going all in with what the Sabres have. Moving some younger pieces to try and really push for a playoff spot would be highly likely, which I’m not sure the Sabres are ready to do just yet.

Is the Risk of Waiting Until Free Agency Worth It?

Adams needs to do everything he can to keep this young core together if possible. Acquiring Kane would show the fans how serious the Sabres are about being competitive, but losing future high-end pieces like Jack Quinn or Dylan Cozens isn’t worth it to me.

Dylan Cozens Buffalo Sabres
Dylan Cozens, Buffalo Sabres, first NHL game (Photo by Sara Schmidle/NHLI via Getty Images)

There is always the risk that Kane won’t be available in the 2023 offseason if Buffalo doesn’t trade for him, but I solemnly believe that it’s a risk Adams should be willing to take if he’s serious about being a long-term contender in the future.

What Could Fans Expect From Kane in Buffalo?

While it is true that Kane isn’t quite the player he once was, fans can still expect him to contribute in a big way to the offense for many years. He has been the guy that kept the Blackhawks’ offense afloat, as his impact on the ice is noticeable and game-changing.

However, it is important to note that he is not getting any younger. By the time free agency opens in 2023, he will be 34 years old, so Sabres fans should not expect any runs for the Hart Trophy or anything like that anymore. Having said that, he still brings elite playmaking ability, along with the leadership of a guy that has won three Stanley Cups.

For the young guns like Cozens, JJ Peterka, Quinn, and Tage Thompson, it means that they’ll get a chance to step up their offensive play alongside Kane, as playing with him has allowed other players such as Alex Debrincat to take the next step in their offensive game. He makes all the plays on the line and it allows for his linemates to focus on their strengths offensively. This could be a massive benefit to whichever young players the Sabres decide to pair him with.

Who are Potential Linemates for Kane?

As I have mentioned, the best move for Adams and the Sabres would be to wait until free agency opens in 2023 and try to sign Kane then. This means that he would not be with the team until the 2023-24 season. With this in mind, I believe the best possible linemates for him would be Cozens and Thompson.

Tage Thompson Buffalo Sabres
Tage Thompson, Buffalo Sabres (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This line would work because it brings a great combination of skill, playmaking, goalscoring, and effort. Cozens has a notable wrist shot, which is the perfect complement to Kane’s ability to generate high-danger scoring chances. Thompson has also showcased his ability to put the puck in the back of the net, after netting 38 goals in 2021-22. To me, he would be the perfect guy to round out this line on the left wing.

Playing with Kane should do wonders for these two players, as having that dynamic playmaker on their right wing would allow for both Cozens and Thompson to blossom into the offensive threats they have the potential of becoming.

What Could a Contract Look Like for Kane?

At this point in his career, I doubt Buffalo would be willing to give him a very big contract. The maximum term the Sabres can give him without it being a bad one would be four years. Knowing he will be 34 years of age by the time free agency opens in 2023, it’s safe to say it won’t be a long-term contract, no matter where he goes, whether it be Buffalo or somewhere else.

In terms of the money, I’m sure this isn’t Kane’s main concern at this point. He has made a lot of money throughout his lengthy career, so taking a discount to go where he wants to is more likely than not. I could see something similar to what Claude Giroux signed for in Ottawa, which was $6.5 million average annual value (AAV) over three years.

Patrick Kane Chicago Blackhawks
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

My best guess for a contract were he to sign in Buffalo is a three-year deal, paying him $6.5 million AAV. This contract would likely include a full no-movement clause so that he has control of where he goes if he is traded at some point.

Is There a Genuine Shot at Kane Going to Buffalo?

There is a real chance of Kane coming to Buffalo. Fans will be overjoyed because it’s not often that Buffalo is a competitor on a big-name on the trade market or free agent market. Overall, bringing Kane to Buffalo on a good contract would be more than ideal, as this move could not only help some young guns develop into stars, but also push the Sabres into the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Usually, a big free agent like this is pure speculation, however, signing him is a real possibility if he hits the open market in 2023.

With contending teams like the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers potentially in on the superstar winger, the idea of a trade is almost useless. The Sabres are in no position to risk Kane leaving next offseason after giving up what would be a boat load of future assets like prospects and picks. The safer and more comfortable option for Adams and crew would be to take a run at him in free agency.

Bringing Kane home would be very exciting for the fans in Buffalo because of the extreme chance of a playoff run that comes with it. However, if he is to come to Buffalo, it will likely be through next year’s free agency instead of a trade, meaning Sabres fans will have to wait another year for him.

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