Evander Kane, LW – Buffalo Sabres
In the midst of his best NHL year, maintaining an almost point-per-game pace while toiling with the bottom-dwelling Sabres, Kane is due a big payday come next summer.
A nine-year vet who is still just 26-years-old, Kane will arguably be the best left wing on the market, and with his expiring deal at $5.25M AAV, he’ll be seeking a sizable raise.
Known as a bit of an injury-prone underachiever, he’s tearing it up in his contract year with 13 goals and 14 assists in 30 contests, including an already career high of six assists to go with a goal on the man advantage.
Kane continues to exert a physical presence, averaging nearly two hits per game with 59 total thus far.
Of course, starting with a team very unlikely to make the playoffs and facing free agency, he’s a prime candidate for a deadline deal to a contender.
Buffalo surely doesn’t want to risk him leaving town without being compensated, and he sure would look good as an addition to a club with cup aspirations as the season winds down. And of course, any such team with significant salary cap space over the next few years might want to begin the wooing process a bit early.
With a more successful squad, his numbers could either dip as he may not be relied upon as much as in Buffalo, or they could skyrocket on a more high-powered offense. Such factors could influence his payday in either direction.
Regardless of where Kane’s playing at the end of the campaign, here’s betting next summer brings a hefty raise and a new home with a more successful franchise.
Mike Green, D – Detroit Red Wings
Green’s situation has many parallels with Kane’s – a bad team, and a good player having one of his better recent years.
Well, at least his start was great. After 17 points in his first 19 games (including nine power play assists), Green’s registered just one goal and no assists in his last ten contests. His fall has mirrored that of the Wings’ who have earned just one win over the past nine games.
But again, for a contending team that needs blue line help and experience, a 13-year-vet who is still not all that grey at age 32 might fetch a nice trade deadline haul for the Wings.
Detroit’s only eight points out of a playoff spot at this semi-early juncture, but their chances are growing slimmer. Conversely, they sit only two points above Ottawa for the East’s second-worst record.
Primarily an offensive asset (57.1 % offensive zone starts over his career), Green can still munch minutes (averaging 22:47 per game), block a few shots (30) and dish some hits (34).
Green’s also registered a minus-three on a squad collectively with a minus-17 goal differential after 29 games.
While I’m not sure he gets a $6M AAV deal similar to his expiring one, some high profile minutes in the playoffs could drive up his price. But again, a lesser role on a squad that flames out might bring the opposite effect.
I’d wager he leaves Detroit to play with a contender at the deadline and continues to chase the Cup by signing with a club needing some blue line experience and skill to get over the hump.
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