Joe DiBiase reporting@DiBiaseWGR
Former Buffalo Sabres forward Evander Kane had played 574 career games in the NHL before playing in his first playoff game. The Atlanta Thrashers, Winnipeg Jets, and Sabres never provided Kane with an opportunity to play in the postseason. On Thursday night, Kane made his playoff debut with the San Jose Sharks in their series against the Anaheim Ducks.
Kane came out firing in his first playoff game. Two goals in a 3-0 win for the Sharks. Kane had expressed in the past that he believed he was a "playoff player", but never got the chance to show it. So far so good.
The Sabres traded Kane to the Sharks at the trade deadline for two conditional draft picks and forward Danny O'Regan. The first conditional pick will either be a first or second round pick in 2019, that is if the Sharks win the Stanley Cup this year, or Kane re-signs with the team in the offseason. The other conditional pick will either be a fourth round pick in 2019 or a third round pick in 2020. That decision will be left up to the Sharks.
In 16 regular season games with the Rochester Americans, O'Regan has registered 12 points. He'll try to help the Amerks make a run at the 2018 Calder Cup title, beginning next week.
The good news for the Sabres is that Kane looks great. If he continues to look great, the better the odds San Jose will want to bring him back. The Sharks have roughly $14 million in cap room this offseason, but only have two forwards under contract beyond next season. Only forwards Melker Karlsson and Mikkel Boedker have deals in 2019-20, and they combine for a $6 million cap hit. The Sharks can afford Kane if they want him.
There is more good news for the Sabres is this current playoff format. The Sharks and Ducks series was a coin flip for oddsmakers. With San Jose winning Game 1 in Anaheim, they're now the favorites to win the series, and would be the favorites in Round 2. If the Sharks can get past the Ducks, they'll either play the Vegas Golden Knights or the Los Angeles Kings. Vegas has been one of the worst teams in the league generating chances since February 1 and seem to be slowing down. It took a tremendous shutout effort by Marc-Andre Fleury to top the Kings in Game 1. For Los Angeles, they're a team riding a hot goalie, but doesn't have much of any dynamic scoring. Anze Kopitar compiled 92 points this season, but they had just two other 20 goal scorers.
If Evander Kane keeps playing like he did in his first playoff game, the Sharks are going to be a tough out in the playoffs.