Vancouver, BC – If the Winnipeg Jets had their way, superstar forward Evander Kane's signature will be inked on a new long-term contract with the club in short order and they'll finally move on from dealing with the speculation that the recently turned 21-year-old wants out of the Manitoba capital.
But the longer Kane remains in limbo, the more heated the rumor mill will become with suggestions that Kane has asked for a change of scenery despite the fact that both Kane's representatives and the Jets have denied there's any truth to the reports that he's asked to be dealt from the team.
While it would clearly be in the Jets' best interest to get Kane signed, sealed and delivered, it's not hard to imagine the club reaching the point in which they may feel it's time to walk away from the former Canadian World Junior gold medalist.
As much good as Kane has done on the ice in his young NHL career for the Jets/Thrashers franchise - he had a career-high 30 goals and 57 points last season in just his third season as a pro - he has seemingly garnered just as much attention off the ice, especially now with all the talk surrounding his trade request, real or imagined.
If the Jets decide to they want to part with Kane, there will certainly be no shortage of suitors. Here are five teams that could take a run at Kane if he hits the market:
The Canucks have made no secret about the fact they're searching for a power forward with scoring ability and Kane would certainly fit the mold at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds. He'd also be immensely popular considering he's from Vancouver and won a Memorial Cup with the WHL's Vancouver Giants back in 2007.
The Canucks have a number of prospects who could be of interest to the Jets in a potential trade, but as far as an immediate return goes, their most attractive chip to play is defenseman Alexander Edler. The 26-year-old set career highs in goals (11) and points (49) last season and took part in the NHL All-Star Game, but he is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the upcoming season.
The Habs are another team that would like to add some size up front and get younger as well, and their most intriguing asset to dangle is fellow restricted free agent defenseman P.K. Subban, who also has been rumored to be on the trade block.
Beyond that, the Habs have a number of proven, veteran scoring forwards who might pique the Jets' interest such as Tomas Plekanec or Rene Bourque, but if the Jets are seeking young, NHL-ready forwards in return to offset what they would be losing in Kane, then Montreal likely won't be at the top of their list of trade partners.
After watching the teams in their own division shore up over the summer, the Flames would love to make a splash of their own by landing one of the best young forwards in the NHL, particularly one who can be an heir apparent for years to come to Jarome Iginla, their 35-year-old captain who is entering into the final year of his contract.
The Flames have several up-and-comers in their system, including their two most recent first-round draft picks in Sven Baertschi and Mark Jankowski who would surely be on the Jets' wish list in any deal potentially involving Kane. As far as roster players are concerned, Calgary has been actively shopping defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and the Jets might have interest in the former Panther, seeing as how his most productive years offensively came while he played in the Southeast Division.
The Flyers' most desperate need is on their back end, but after losing the likes of Jaromir Jagr and James van Riemsdyk this summer, one year after jettisoning star forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter in separate trades, shoring up their forward ranks is likely high on their to-do list as well.
The Flyers have proved they're not shy about doling out big money as evidenced by their offer sheet to Shea Weber, but they appear hesitant to include the likes of forwards Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn in trade talks. They may soften that stance, however, in a more-involved deal, especially if the Jets were to dangle All-Star blue-liner Dustin Byfuglien, who also has had his share of troubles off the ice over the last year but would be just the stud defenseman the Flyers are very much seeking.
After being bounced from the first round of the playoffs in back-to-back seasons following their Stanley Cup championship in 2009, a major shake-up might just be what's needed in the Windy City for the Blackhawks to recapture their status as a perennial contender. Landing a player of Kane's ilk would certainly qualify.
Chicago certainly has plenty of attractive assets that it could offer up, including Patrick Kane, yet another player who might benefit from a change of scenery and has been rumored to be on the block.
A Kane-for-Kane swap might be ideal for the Jets considering they'd be gaining an established superstar who is still very young at 23, has a tremendous amount of upside and is locked into a contract through the 2014-15 season at a reasonable cap hit of $6.3 million.