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Evander Kane traded to Sabres in blockbuster deal

The bold seven-person swap between the Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets should help the Jets make the playoffs this season and cut the Sabres’ rebuilding time by a season or two. The Jets traded injured forward Evander Kane, plus defenseman Zach Bogosian and goalie prospect Jason Kasdorf to the Sabres on Wednesday for defenseman Tyler Myers, right wing Drew Stafford, a first-round pick in 2015 and two quality prospects.

Myers has the potential to be more offensive than Bogosian, and Stafford, a former 31-goal scorer, can help provide secondary scoring. The trade also allows Dustin Byfuglien to move back to his preferred position on defense. The two prospects the Jets will receive are feisty Brendan Lemieux, a 2014 second-round pick who is the son of former NHL player Claude Lemieux, and 6-3 Finnish forward Joel Armia, a former first-round pick. He has 25 points in 33 games for the Rochester (N.Y.) Americans this season. Armia is close to being ready for the NHL, and he could be called up this season.

The desire to trade Kane intensified this week when he was made a healthy scratch after showing up for a team meeting wearing a track suit when a sport coat was required. It was reported that Byfuglien threw Kane’s track suit into a shower. Kane then decided on season-ending shoulder surgery, despite playing through the injury for much of the year. General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff hadn’t made many trades since becoming the Jets general manager in 2011, but he proved he can act boldly. The consensus is he landed a strong return on this deal, more than would be expected considering his options were limited by Kane’s injury and his desire to leave Winnipeg.

The conventional wisdom would be that if Cheveldayoff waited until the summer, he could have made his best deal because more teams would be involved. Contending teams couldn’t afford to give up assets for a player who can’t help them now. But that wasn’t an issue for the rebuilding Sabres, who have an NHL-low 35 points. Fans are already counting on the team drafting either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, both of whom are considered generational prospects.

The Jets wanted to move quickly because they hope to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007 when they were the Atlanta Thrashers. They are leading the wild-card race in the Western Conference, but the Minnesota Wild, Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings could challenge them. The key for the Sabres is that Kane is 23 and has the potential to be among the NHL’s top power forwards. Most teams are intrigued by him because he has the potential to be a 30-goal scorer and a physical player.