USATSI_8210499_154158418_lowresThe Winnipeg Jets are finished with Evander Kane. The club traded their forward to the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday, ending an era that was often dotted with contentiousness and always filled with controversy.

Kane, defenceman Zach Bogosian and prospect Jason Kasdorf were traded to the Sabres in exchange for Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux, and a first round draft pick for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Winnipeg finds itself in playoff position for the first time since 2007 (as the Atlanta Thrashers) and is certainly game to make a run at things, so getting rid of the Kane problem and adding some key players has to be seen as a big win. General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has been all about positioning his Jets as a Western Conference power and he’s been patient.

But today, the time came to act.

Interestingly, this is Cheveldayoff’s first player-for-player trade in the National Hockey League. All prior moves had related to draft picks or prospects or some other form of building for the future in Winnipeg.

Now, he’s added a top six forward in Stafford. There’s a possible slot for him on a line with Mark Scheifele and Mathieu Perreault, for instance. That would move Dustin Byfuglien back to defence, by the way, which is where he’s more effective.

And Myers is another big get. He can play with Toby Enstrom, where Bogosian was. The upgrade here is that Myers is a beast. He’s 6’8 at 219 pounds. That’s an instant size upgrade for a defensive group that’s already massive – especially if Byfuglien’s 6’5, 290-pound frame is back along the blueline. Or, perhaps in tribute to Nicki Minaj…

“Our back end is enormous right now,” head coach Paul Maurice said. “You look at that right side, we’re going to have to find minutes for everybody, but we have a big solid back end that’s got a nice identity. A lot of those big guys can really move the puck and move their body.”

There are a number of reasons this trade was a big win for the Jets, but it could also prove to be huge for the Sabres if they can get something out of Kane when he returns. Bogosian is no slouch either, but Buffalo’s long out of the playoff picture at this point.

The Jets, on the other hand, can really do something here. They’ve got a solid cushion in the standings and they just made a blockbuster deal that instantly improves their team. It’s more than a little early to start planning the parade, but this post-season just got very, very interesting in Winnipeg.

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