The Jets Thursday placed Evander Kane on Injured Reserve retroactive to Feb. 2, but after the revelations of discord in the dressing room between the winger and other members of the team, the winger may have played his final game in a Winnipeg uniform.
If that’s true and Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff pulls the trigger on an off-season deal that sends Kane out of town, what teams would be the best fit for him? Here’s our best guess:
5. Boston Bruins. The veteran-laden Bruins are in win-now mode, and their struggles to score could be addressed in the summer with a deal for Kane. To work under the salary cap, the deal would almost certainly need to include someone (say, a Brad Marchand), but in a major city like Boston, Kane could disappear away from the rink and use that relative anonymity to get back to the 30-goal plateau he reached in 2011-12.
4. Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets aren’t considered a frontrunner for Kane’s services, but they’re one of many teams that needs to improve their depth and skill at forward, especially if Nathan Horton is forced to retire due to his degenerative back condition. The Jackets’ strong work ethic, and the breathing room Kane would have in a non-traditional hockey market certainly would only be positives for his future.
3. New York Islanders. The Isles have shown this year they’re no longer a one-player team, but they still are rather thin at left wing. And the 23-year-old is young enough to grow alongside the franchise’s core of John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Ryan Strome. Kane’s $5.25 million cap hit would be a sizeable addition to a franchise that hasn’t been awash in profit, but with the team relocating to Brooklyn next season, the addition of a player of Kane’s talents would be an excellent way to increase interest.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins. It seems the Pens are always interested in any above-average winger available for trade, and this time it’s no different. Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford would do his homework on Kane, but it’s hard to find reasons not to see the winger excelling alongside superstars Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. In addition, the Penguins have been doing their utmost to get edgier this season, and Kane has enough grit in his game to address that need.
1. Anaheim Ducks. The psychological boost of Kane going from a fishbowl hockey environment in Winnipeg to the polar opposite in Anaheim couldn’t be measured by any instrument, but you’d almost certainly see the difference in his game if he were playing in California on a daily basis. The Ducks’ top-end talent in Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry would allow Kane to come in as a complementary player, and that could allow his game to grow again, and they also have enough talent in the system to make this deal a very real possibility.