The Buffalo Sabres’ problem with shopping Evander Kane

Here’s the problem with Evander Kane.

When he was drafted, he was viewed as a prototypical power forward. A new era Cam Neely.

That was 2009. And that’s the problem. It’s not 2009 anymore. Kane brought the skill set to the NHL, and then the NHL changed around him.

Power forwards, players who can hit and fight and bang bodies and create havoc, well, they’re just not in vogue right now. Maybe they never will be again, at least not to the same extent they were. The game has changed that dramatically in less than a decade. The “intangibles” that used to enhance the value of such players, particularly the intimidation factor and the ability to “wear down” the opposition, aren’t weighted as heavily any more.

It’s all about speed and skill. It’s players like Auston Matthews, Steven Stamkos and Patrik Laine that have the most value. Big men with the skills of little men. Or little men like Nikita Kucherov, Clayton Keller, Mitch Marner, Johnny Gaudreau and Nik Ehlers. Connor McDavid is a little bigger than some of those guys, but he sure wouldn’t be anyone’s definition of a power forward. He’s a cheetah on skates.

Kane would have had enormous value in the old Chuck Norris Division. Even the 2007 Anaheim Ducks, a team that led the league in penalties and won the Stanley Cup, would have placed enormous value on his skill set.

But it’s different now. Strength, bulk and fighting skills — with fighting all but eliminated — aren’t as important as they once were. Size is much less of an advantage than it once was in the NHL, particularly with new prohibitions on using the stick to the hands.

True power forwards, if the Neely mold is the guide, are rare.

Alex Ovechkin, of course, but that’s a different universe. Josh Anderson, Matthew Tkachuk and Jamie Benn are of the general type. Edmonton has Patrick Maroon and Milan Lucic, but foot speed issues are problematic on both accounts.

There just aren’t many out there. And the ones that are on rosters better be able to keep up.

Kane can certainly be a good player in the league. He’s fast. He can score when he’s healthy. He’s got …read more



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