Another name has been added to the list of NHL players that are being shopped around on the market: Evander Kane.
As the hype of what should be an action-packed free agency period approaches, teams are expressing their wants and needs. Summer though, is not a time exclusively reserved for free agent signings; it is also a time for general managers to improve their clubs via trades.
The Montreal Canadiens have players like Brian Gionta, Andrei Markov and Thomas Vanek who are set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1st. That means that there quite possibly lies a need to acquire a big gun. But it does not necessarily have to be via free agency.
The cost of acquiring a player via free agency is weighed in dollars; the cost of acquiring a player via trade is weighed in players. The question is, which costs more?
Paul Stastny, Thomas Vanek, Jerome Iginla, Matt Moulson, Ryan Callahan, Mike Cammalleri, Jussi Jokinen, Radim Vrbata, Derek Roy, Dustin Penner, Marian Gaborik, Mikhail Grabovski and now Brad Richards (after being bought out by the Rangers) round out the list of attractive free agent forwards. Only a few of those names would be likely be considered and pursued by Marc Bergevin.
Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is reportedly interested in shopping Evander Kane. Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press tweeted the following today:
Chevy and #nhljets would want a young top 6 F or young top 4 D in return for Kane. Player must be coming of age or in prime and locked up
— gary lawless (@garylawless) June 21, 2014
Kane was drafted 4th overall in the 2009 NHL draft to the Atlanta Thrashers. They did not waste time inserting him into the team’s NHL lineup. In the 09-10 season he scored 26 points in 66 games. Two seasons later, with the freshly relocated Winnipeg Jets, he had his best season scoring 30 goals in 74 games. This past season he finished with subpar numbers though, totalling 19 goals and 41 points in 63 games. The Jets went through a midseason coaching change, firing Claude Noel and hiring Paul Maurice, though, that should not be viewed as an excuse for Kane.
Two years ago in 2012, the Jets resigned the restricted free agent Kane to a 6-year $31.5M deal. Now, they may be having second thoughts.
What the Jets saw in him enough to sign him long-term, he still has: speed, puck skills and pure goal-scoring ability. They may desire change, but they still want the same thing in return as they are still a franchise trying to make the playoffs. They have not had a playoff berth since the 06-07 Thrashers won their division and were swept in the first round of the quarter finals. As Cheveldayoff reportedly said, they want a young top six forward or a young top four defenseman. Now that is a tad steep a demand for a player whose numbers have not been outstanding in recent years. But Kane is a large part of their offensive corps and they are not in a position to ask for anything less in return.
So could Kane fit in Montreal?
Signing a goal-scoring forward in free agency would cost Marc Bergevin a lot of money. Some suspect he is willing to pay that money, as the team is possibly on the brink of a Cup Final berth. But everyone has their price, and Bergevin is by no means the type of GM to throw an absurd amount of money at a player if it is not the right fit. In either case, money is money and free agents cost a lot of it. Perhaps a trade is in order.
I think this is where the Dustin Tokarski card could come into play. A while back I expressed my opinion on what the Canadiens should do with their dual backup situation. I think they should trade Tokarski and keep Peter Budaj. And here lies an example in which Tokarski could prove to be a valuable chip.
I do not like to explore at great depth trade options and packages. The truth is the combinations are endless and the wants and requirements laid out by both parties are usually more detailed than they appear. But when it comes to the idea of the Canadiens trading for Evander Kane, one major piece of the deal could be Dustin Tokarski.
The Jets have Ondrej Pavelec as their starter. But his last season’s .901 SV% and 3.01 GAA do not bode well for the future of the 26 year-old Czech goaltender. As GM, I would elect to give Tokarski a shot as my starter over Pavelec. Pavelec has shown signs of strong ability in the net, but has also proven to be inconsistent over the past few seasons. The Jets have not had anyone else to throw in there for better results. Since they are looking to trade anyway and are likely not going to pursue UFAs Jonas Hiller and Ryan Miller because of their sticker prices, they might be intrigued in what Montreal has to offer.
Obviously, Tokarski would be part of a much larger conversation — a packaged-deal. The deal would
likely have to include either valuable prospects, or a top six forward or top four defenseman. Montreal’s defensive corps is not going to offer much to Winnipeg, as the likes of Josh Gorges and P.K. Subban are not going anywhere. Perhaps Alexei Emelin or a prospect like Nathan Beaulieu could be used to sweeten the pot. On offense, the Canadiens young valuable forwards are Galchenyuk and Gallahger — not going anywhere. There are forwards further down the depth chart such as Briere, Bourque and Bournival, but again they would have to be part of a package that would include prospects as well.
By no means would this be easy, and by no means is this something being considered by Marc Bergevin or Kevin Cheveldayoff. But it is a possibility. I think Kane would fill the hole nicely in Montreal. He is a young and exciting player who has all-star potential and who can score 30 goals. He is not even 25 yet – he is still a ripe 22 years-old meaning there is plenty room for growth. Sounds nice. No?