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Kane tops Sabres’ left wingers

Evander Kane knows how to control a game. For a two-year stretch, he scored like Zach Parise, took as many shots as Rick Nash and hit as often as Milan Lucic.

That’s the Kane the Sabres want to see in their lineup.

Buffalo gave up a lot to acquire Kane from Winnipeg in February, but his arrival gave them a potential All-Star. From 2011 through 2013, Kane could compete with nearly any left winger not named Alex Ovechkin. He scored 47 goals (Parise had 49), took 477 shots (Nash had 482) and registered 320 hits (Lucic had 340).

Kane’s numbers dropped during the last two seasons, but he will easily enter the 2015-16 campaign as the top left winger in the Sabres’ organization. In the second installment of The Buffalo News’ five-part series about the Sabres’ depth chart, we’ll take a look at who’s here among left wingers, who’s coming, when they’ll arrive and how they’ve been doing.

Many forwards play center and wing, so employees with their teams were consulted as to where the players were used most. Rankings were done in consultation with Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com.

The depth chart for players already in the pros is based on their status for the 2015-16 season, while the junior- and college-aged players are ranked by potential.

The professionals

1. Evander Kane. The 23-year-old’s inability to play because of shoulder surgery helped the Sabres secure center Jack Eichel in the draft. Kane could benefit most. The right-handed Eichel could find it easy to set up Kane for one-timers or rushes. Arrival in Buffalo: Here.

2. Matt Moulson. He made a home in Buffalo with a five-year contract, but the first season was a bust because the 31-year-old forgot where his home is on the ice. He drifted away from the net, resulting in just 13 goals for the three-time 30-goal scorer. Arrival in Buffalo: Here.

3. Marcus Foligno. Last summer’s shoulder surgery turned the big hitter into a bystander for the first half of the season. The 23-year-old rallied late and has the mix of skill and physicality needed for the third line. Arrival in Buffalo: Here.

4. Nicolas Deslauriers. The Sabres voted him their Rookie of the Year after he led the team in hits and dressing-room antics. He brings needed personality. Arrival in Buffalo: Here.

5. William Carrier. Acquired from St. Louis as part of the Ryan Miller and Steve Ott trade, the 20-year-old has skill and an admirable work ethic. He put up just seven goals and 21 points for Rochester, but the low output was expected since he was only 19 when the season started. He gained confidence. Arrival in Buffalo: Injury callup, 2015-16.

6. Evan Rodrigues. An unknown at Boston University before becoming Eichel’s wingman this season, Rodrigues exploded for 21 goals and 60 points in 41 games. The 21-year-old will need to prove in Rochester that he can excel without a franchise center. Arrival in Buffalo: Injury callup, 2015-16.

7. Jerry D’Amigo. The 24-year-old struggled to produce in Rochester with six goals in 39 games, and he was blanked during a nine-game stay in Buffalo. The restricted free agent could provide organizational depth, provided he gets a contract. Arrival in Buffalo: Long shot.

8. Jordan Samuels-Thomas. The 24-year-old from Quinnipiac University had the typical struggles of any first-year pro, recording eight points in 63 games with Rochester. His 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame is intriguing. Arrival in Buffalo: Long shot.

9. Kevin Sundher. After two unproductive seasons in Rochester, the 23-year-old shuttled between the AHL and ECHL last season. Arrival in Buffalo: Long shot.

10. Jack Nevins. Buffalo acquired the 21-year-old enforcer from Montreal as a throw-in to the Torrey Mitchell deal. He had 14 fights as an AHL rookie. Arrival in Buffalo: Long shot.

The prospects

1. Gustav Possler. The shot-minded 20-year-old recovered from a torn anterior cruciate ligament to finish third in scoring on his Swedish team. He’s under contract with Modo for one more year, giving him another chance to compete against established men. Arrival in Buffalo: 2017-18 season.

2. Jean Dupuy. The 20-year-old signed as a free agent after a hot start to his final junior season. In addition to putting up 22 goals and 52 points in 64 games, he was one of the Ontario Hockey League’s top penalty-killers. He can fill that role as a pro. Arrival in Buffalo: 2016-17 season.

3. Brad Navin. The 22-year-old was the captain for the University of Wisconsin. His off-ice attributes trump his on-ice skills. Arrival in Buffalo: Long shot.

4. Max Willman. The 20-year-old played in 30 games as a freshman at Brown University, scoring once. Arrival in Buffalo: 2019-20 season.

Next: Right wingers.

email: jvogl@buffnews.com

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