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Sharks pursuing Sabres’ Evander Kane

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Sharks reportedly one of two Pacific teams with an interest in the winger.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Per TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the San Jose Sharks are among front-runners to land the Buffalo Sabres forward Evander Kane.

This tells us a few things: First, that the Sharks aren’t in a bid to rent Rick Nash from the Rangers. Second, that the pressure is on to acquire Kane, as the other options sends him to the division rival Anaheim Ducks. Third, the the interest in the SenatorsErik Karlsson is now likely off the table, unless Doug Wilson is looking to surprise everyone with a complete overhaul.

The 26-year-old left winger is only under contract until the end of this season, where he will be an unrestricted free agent. Wilson has previously stated that he’s not looking to acquire rentals, but Kane’s relative youth, combined with coming off a six-year contract, may mean he’d have an interest in signing with the Sharks long-term. He was originally drafted fourth overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2009.

He currently has a cap hit of $5.25 million.

In 61 games with the Sabres this year, Kane has totaled 40 points split evenly between goals and assists. He’s well on pace to beat last year’s point total of 43, though the boost may have come from playing with Jack Eichel, the linemate he’s spent the most time with this season per Left Wing Lock. And indeed, he’s scoring fewer goals (.328/game in 2018 versus .400/game in 2017) but making up for it with more assists.

Kane doesn’t come without concerns. In 2014, he was accused of assault in Vancouver and sued for damages stemming from the altercation, including a concussion. The legal issues stemming from that case widened the rift between Kane and Winnipeg Jets management that had been building for years, ultimately leading to his trade to Buffalo. His time in Winnipeg also included an event in which he used a homophobic slur on Twitter.

Kane was charged with sexual assault in December of 2015 and harassment of three women in June of 2016. Both cases were eventually dismissed, despite the second incident — where he allegedly grabbed a woman by the throat and told another “You’re coming to my house with me and you’re going to like it.” — having the support of Erie County Acting District Attorney Michael Flaherty, who said, “It’s our opinion that the evidence does support the charges.”

Off-ice issues aside, Kane also has a history of injuries and has never played a full 82-game season. He’s only hit the 30-goal mark once in his career, in 2011 with the Jets, but that could also be due to injuries keeping him out of the line up. He had a bone fracture in 2010, a flurry of minor injuries his sophomore season including a knee injury, a concussion in 2012, shoulder surgery in 2015, and a hand injury and cracked ribs in 2016.

Kane was scratched ahead of last night’s 5-1 loss against the Washington Capitals, in preparations for his eminent move.