As most of you know, the St. Louis Blues could be one of the more active teams heading up to this season’s trade deadline. While the Blues currently have one of the better defensive corps in the NHL and a strong group of prospects, they are still lacking some much needed scoring depth.
Since the Blues are on their bye week and won’t play again until Tuesday we here at St. Louis Game Time thought it would be fun to break down some of the prospective trades that the Blues may have interest in. Some of them will be realistic while others could be a long shot at best.
There are two things to remember as we evaluate these potential trades.
First off, the Blues have virtually zero cap space to work with, so any incoming cap hit will have to be countered with a similar cap hit going the other way. I say similar because the current CBA allows a team to retain up to 50% of the cap hit that they are trading away. Or in other words, if a player is making $6 million then the club can retain no more than $3 million of their cap hit.
Secondly, if the Blues do decide to make a trade it will only be because they are looking to improve the team for a run at this year’s Stanley Cup. Yes, a player with term still left on their contract would be a plus but not a necessity. The Blues will be looking to give up future assets (prospect, draft picks or both) for short term gains. The Blues have a load of young talent either currently playing for the big club or on various minor league teams. This is the Blues only bargaining chip and it is a big one. So any of you who think that the Blues are getting a Mike Hoffman for Jay Bouwmeester might want to stop reading right now.
Today we are looking at Buffalo Sabres winger Evander Kane. We started with Kane because in our opinion this is probably one of the least likely possibilities out there. Not because Kane wouldn’t improve the Blues but simply because he will be one of the most sought after players currently on the market. Doug Armstrong has been aggressive in the past but it is hard to imagine a trade with Buffalo that Armstrong will be comfortable with. There just will be too many bidders and the asking price will most likely balloon out of the Blues’ comfort zone. Still, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a try.
Evander Kane is a 26 year old, 6’2”, 212 lbs. left winger who is currently playing for the Buffalo Sabres. According to hockey-reference.com he was drafted 4th overall by Atlanta in the 2009 draft.
He played six years for the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets with his best season coming in 2011-12 when he scored 30 goals and 57 points.
In 2015 he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres as part of a seven player trade. Since arriving in Buffalo he has consistently been a minimum 20 goal 35 point per season player.
According to CapFriendly.com Kane currently has a $5.25 million dollar cap hit and will become a UFA at the end of the 2017-18 season. It is widely speculated that he will be due a sizable pay increase when he signs his next contract, which is a contract that the Buffalo Sabres have decided they want no part of. They are actively shopping Kane in the hopes of netting some kind of return from a player who will not be on the team’s roster come the start of next season.
When we look at the possibility of this trade there are a couple of things that come to the forefront.
One, the Sabres are in some desperate need of help on their blue line. And secondly, the have already announced that they are open to absorbing some of Kane’s current cap hit in order to attract perspective teams that are only interested in a rental.
Both of these points work in favor for the Blues but like we stated earlier, the asking price will be high.
If we assume the Sabres are willing to absorb 50% of Kane’s cap hit (or $2.62 million) then the Blues still need to move the same amount in order to clear the necessary cap space.
I would assume that the Sabres first ask would be Colton Parayko, who has a cap hit of $5.5 million and is signed through the 2020-21 season. If I were the Blues I would counter with Jay Bouwmeester because neither one of these is actually going to happen.
More than likely the Sabres are going to be eyeing the Blues young blue liners, probably Vinnce Dunn or Jake Walman maybe Jordan Schmaltz, as well as one of their young forwards, possible Jordan Kyrou or Klim Kostin. However, due to their minuscule cap hit the Sabres will also have to take on one of the Blues larger contracts, most likely Vladimir Sobotka who has a cap hit of $3.5 million and is signed through the 2019-20 season. So let’s call it Dunn, Kostin (only because the Sabers need an NHL ready defenseman and there is no way the Blues are parting with both Dunn and Kyrou) and Sobotka for Evander Kane with the Sabres retaining $1.75 million of Kane’s cap hit.
Regardless of the exact pieces involved I believe that the ask from the Sabres for Kane will definitely be more than just a prospect or just a draft pick. There unfortunately will be too much competition from other teams that also value Kane’s services.
In the end the ask will just be too much for a rental who the Blues have little hope of signing in the offseason.
While Evander Kane is probably one of the most reliable goal scorers currently available, due to the Blues’ lack of cap space and Kane’s lack of term left on his contract, there just is too much risk for the Blues for this to be a real possibility. Better luck next time.