Sharks' Kane wishes things were different while in Buffalo

November 26, 2018 - 4:06 pm

Evander Kane spent parts of three seasons with the Buffalo Sabres after the team acquired him from the Winnipeg Jets on February 11, 2015. After sitting out the last half of the 2014-15 season, Kane ended up scoring 68 goals and put up 118 points in 196 games in Buffalo.

With his contract set to expire at the end of the season and the team near the bottom of the basement, the Sabres decided to trade Kane to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a conditional 2019 first round pick, a conditional 2019 fourth round pick, and forward Danny O'Regan. During the offseason, the 27-year-old winger re-signed with the Sharks to a seven-year, $49 million deal, which gave the Sabres the first round pick, which can become a 2020 first round pick if the Sharks miss the playoffs.

This season through 24 games played, Kane has seven goals and eight assists for a Sharks team that currently sits in second place in the Pacific Divisions with a 12-8-4 record and 28 points.

As for the Sabres, they currently sit third in the NHL with a 16-6-2 record and 34 points, and are currently in the midst of a nine-game winning streak. The best season the Sabres had when Kane was part of the organization was during the 2015-16 season, his first full season with the team, where the team finished with a 35-36-11 record and missed the playoffs by 12 points.

Kane wishes that things were different during his tenure in Buffalo, but knows that Tuesday night is just another game.

"I wish, during my time here, it would have been the way it is now," said Kane after practice on Monday at KeyBank Center. "No one wants to lose consistently and have the building half empty. That's never fun. That's never what you want as a player, but at the same time, I'm happy with where I am and I'm enjoying my time in San Jose. So far it's been fantastic."

While with the Sabres, Kane was part of a locker room that was stacked with exceptional talent, but often times had no team chemistry and could not string together any consistency. Kane knew that things did not click well for guys on the team before he was traded to the Sharks.

"The comradery was pretty good. In terms of the on ice culture or play that we had was inconsistent," Kane said. "They've made a lot of moves in the last number of years in each offseason...

"I've definitely noticed a difference in terms of team atmosphere and team environment, especially when I got traded at the deadline. I think just the winning culture more so than the guys' age on the team. I think definitely having guys like [Joe Thornton]... we're just coming off a big loss in Vegas and the team is as upbeat as ever. I think those kind of little differences can have a real positive effect throughout the course of the season. It's real nice to be a part of that."

If there was one thing that Kane always did while with the Sabres was, whether it was a practice or a game, he would give 110-percent effort on every shift. That was one thing that his current head coach, Pete DeBoer, was looking to add to his roster.

"In a league where everybody is looking for speed, a back you off type speed, he brings that. That's probably the best asset. The second best asset, to me, that I think he's given us is a physical presence in the lineup every night where guys really think twice about taking liberties," said DeBoer after practice on Monday. "The change I saw, in that, from when he showed up and started playing for us to the week prior, even where he wasn't in our lineup was quite significant. He gives us a presence in our lineup that teams have to think twice about doing that, and I think the whole group appreciates that. He's a goal scorer, and he plays the right way. He plays a 200-foot game, he doesn't cheat for his offense, we use him on the [power play], the [penalty kill]. He's been a real good player for us."

The Sabres are set to play their second and final game of the regular season against the Sharks on Tuesday. In the first matchup of the season, the Sharks got a hat-trick from Logan Couture en route to a 5-1 win at the SAP Center in San Jose. Since then a lot has changed for the Sabres. At that time, the Sabres were 3-4-0 after the loss. Since then, Buffalo has gone 13-2-2 and are on pace to finish the season with 114 points. DeBoer noticed the change in the team's chemistry right after the first game in San Jose, but has taken note of the team's success since then.

"I think last year was a tough year for them, but they went out in the summer and made some really bold and aggressive moves, and added some pieces that have made a difference. Obviously one of is the young kid in the draft (Rasmus Dahlin), but Skinner and his contribution, scoring every night," DeBoer said of the Sabres. "This is a one-goal league most nights, and if you get a guy that you're adding to your lineup that's scoring almost at a goal a game [pace], that usually gives you a margin of winning or losing. They've done a good job of that."

"They seem to be playing with a lot of confidence, and they're firing on all cylinders right now," Kane said. "That's how you win nine games in a row. We're looking forward to the challenge, and looking forward to hopefully ending that tomorrow night."

Despite the losing that took place when Kane was here, he took notice of the fans in Buffalo and their support of this team. He knows that KeyBank Center will be energized on Tuesday night, and will be filled and hyped more than usual with the success the Sabres are having.

"I can imagine that it will be positive, and I'm sure they're excited," Kane said. "I'm sure there will be a few more people in the stands than there have been in the past with how well they're playing and the win streak. Looking forward to the competition tomorrow."

As for the Sabres, they went back to work on Monday after a day off on Sunday. Buffalo was without Zach Bogosian for Monday's session as head coach Phil Housley gave him a maintenance day. Housley does expect Bogosian to be in the lineup on Tuesday against the Sharks.

Here's how lines looked to start practice:


Skinner-Eichel-Reinhart

Sheary-Mittelstadt-Okposo

Thompson-Sobotka-Pominville

Rodrigues-Larsson-Girgensons

Elie


McCabe-Ristolainen

Beaulieu-Dahlin

Scandella-Nelson


Shortly after the team's first line rushes, Conor Sheary left practice and did not return, which left Remi Elie skating the rest of practice on the line with Casey Mittelstadt and Kyle Okposo. However, Housley did not seem too concerned with the winger's status for Tuesday.

"It's just a little tweak, but it will be a game-time decision tomorrow," Housley said. "I expect him to be in the lineup."

Housley also said that forward Patrik Berglund was skating this morning separately from his teammates, and he is making progress in his recovery from his upper-body injury. Berglund was placed on injured reserve last Wednesday.

The Sabres will return to the ice on Tuesday for the morning skate at around 10:30 a.m.

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