Tim Murray has done his job. Evander Kane says now it’s up to the players to do theirs.
Murray, the Sabres’ general manager, has dramatically increased the talent level in Buffalo, starting with the trade for Kane in February. Since then, Murray has added Ryan O’Reilly, Jack Eichel, Robin Lehner, Cody Franson and others to the lineup while hiring Dan Bylsma as coach.
Kane, like the rest of the folks in Sabreland, watched the transactions with interest and excitement.
“Obviously, Tim made some big moves to kind of push our team to the next level – on paper,” Kane said Thursday. “Now we’ve got to go out and prove it, and that’s the thing.
“For us, we’re excited about the guys we do have. We’re excited about the moves we made, and everybody’s optimistic heading into the season.”
Kane is also excited to be healthy. He and the rest of the Sabres reported to First Niagara Center for physicals and testing, and the left winger says he’s 100 percent after major shoulder surgery in February.
“Probably a month and a half ago I was fully recovered, fully healed and started training,” said Kane, who arrived in Buffalo this week and informally skated with teammates for the first time Wednesday. “I feel like I’m just learning to play hockey all over again. It’s been a good last month for me getting back on the ice, getting the legs going, getting the speed going, getting the hands back a little bit. I’m sure there’s going to be some rust throughout camp and through the preseason especially, having not played in eight or nine months, but by the time the regular season starts I’m sure I’ll be ready to go.”
The 24-year-old expects (and is expected) to be an impact player in Buffalo. He was limited to 10 goals and 22 points in 37 games with Winnipeg last season, but he scored 30 goals in 2011-12.
“I’ve scored 30 goals before in 74 games as a 20-year-old,” he said. “Obviously, I can score 30 goals. ‘Will I?’ is more the question. I hope to score as many goals as possible. Thirty is just kind of a set number. I’ve already scored 30. Maybe I want to score 40 or 50. We’ll see.”
The Sabres’ first on-ice action of training camp will come Friday. They will have three practice sessions (9 a.m., 10 a.m. and noon), plus a 45-minute scrimmage that will begin at 11 a.m. The events are open to the public.