Evander Kane is off to San Jose. So are his 20 goals per season. In the eyes of many, so are the distractions he brings.
No matter what your viewpoint is on one of the most controversial characters in Buffalo Sabres history, the club now has another huge hole on its offense. The Sabres are already the lowest-scoring team in the NHL and taking away one of their top two goal scorers would seem to fly against the logic of trying to build a winning team.
Where is it in the rulebook for front offices that every pending unrestricted free agent must be traded?
GM Jason Botterill denies the decision to move Kane comes from ownership, and that it was made solely by him and his management team. But it's well known Terry and Kim Pegula never forgave Kane for the 2:45 a.m. incident at a Chippewa Street bar the night before the 2016 NHL Draft.
The GM certainly knows ownership's feeling and it really left him little choice but to pursue a deal. He didn't get much of a return either, with the first-round pick he coveted from the Sharks coming in 2019 and not likely to happen (Kane has to either re-sign with the team or the Sharks have to win the Stanley Cup).
The Pegulas green-lighted former GM Tim Murray's deal to get Kane from the Winnipeg Jets in February, 2015, at a time when Kane was a pariah in the hockey world after running afoul of his teammates in the Jets' locker room.
The stories of Kane enjoying the Buffalo nightlife have never cooled during his three years here, and teammates and coaches after scoffed at the way he strode into the arena for games and practices well after most players, simply suited up and headed on the ice. Kane has lots of other interests, and many insiders felt he simply banked on his huge athletic ability to carry him through and never worked all that hard on his craft.
With that as a backdrop, you get a better idea why you might not go into a big-money, long-term deal with Kane. Still, at age 26, he was playing some of the best hockey of his career in the first half of this season. And for a period that began in December, 2016 and stretched through mid-December of this season, Kane was second in the league in even-strength goals behind Toronto's Auston Matthews. That's nothing to scoff at.
Kane's three seasons with Buffalo produced goal totals of 20, 28 and 20. He's proven to be the club's most prolific goal scorer this side of Jack Eichel. Neither Ryan O'Reilly not Kyle Okposo have approached that level of consistency yet with the Sabres.
Where is the offense coming from now? Botterill is hopeful of landing No. 1 draft pick Casey Mittelstadt from the college ranks but the 18-year-old can hardly be expected to step into the lineup and produce like an eight-year veteran.
No matter how you slice it, Kane is a loss on the ice. It's going to take a lot of explaining to see how this move can be viewed as addition by subtraction.