Grievance Case Trivial, Holland Signs Perfect Evander Kane Deal

The Edmonton Oilers pulled a late-night, last-minute deal out of nowhere with Evander Kane and signed the forward to a four-year extension worth $20.5 million. There is dancing in the streets of Edmonton as Kane was a perfect fit alongside Connor McDavid and was a blessing for the Oilers as they stormed back in 2021-22 from being out of the playoff picture to the Western Conference Final. It doesn’t take much looking to see that Kane was a big part of that.

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The Oilers wanted the forward back but as free agency approached on Wednesday, it was looking more and more like the deal wasn’t going to get done. In fact, speculation was that he was asking for big bucks, and just days ahead of the market opening, GM Ken Holland told Kane to look around and see what was out there. It was a smart play.

Not only that, but the deal makes the outstanding grievance case with the San Jose Sharks largely irrelevant.

The Term and Money Is Perfect

There was no way the Oilers were going to get Kane to sign another team-friendly deal like he did when the organization was the only team to give him a look as a free agent seven months ago. But, this new deal is still pretty team-friendly. While just a shade above $5 million is a sizeable investment, it’s a solid contract for a player who produced at the level Kane did while he was in Edmonton. Not only that, but he’s a consistently good hockey player who has scored 20-plus and 30-plus goal seasons in the past. He’s worth the money and this is arguably a better deal than the going rate for similar production.

Evander Kane Edmonton Oilers
Evander Kane, Edmonton Oilers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

So too, the way the deal is structured is ingenious. Puck Pedia reports that the extension is set up so that Kane gets only a small percentage of his salary early in the contract. For fans who are concerned he won’t stay motivated, that this term isn’t completely front-loaded should give him plenty of incentive to stay on the straight and narrow.

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There is a no-move clause, but only until 2025 and then Holland can look to half of the league should he need to trade the player. Honestly, four years isn’t a long time and that he doesn’t want to go anywhere should also put some fans at ease. He should stay productive for all four of those seasons (ages 30-34) and he’ll have Connor McDavid as his center for all four of them too. And, if things fall apart, and he can’t trade the player in year three, the Oilers can buy out that fourth year at a reasonable number.

What About the Grievance Case With the Sharks?

Some fans were concerned this new deal might be voided if Kane doesn’t drop his grievance case against San Jose. Should that continue and he win, Kane could technically revert back to being property of the Sharks. The way this deal is structured, that’s probably not going to happen. Even if it does, it hardly matters.

First, the Sharks don’t want him back. Second, it would make little sense for Kane to pursue this unless he’s adament he get this deal in the way the contract was structured with the Sharks. Essentially, it’s the same money: he either gets $20.5 million from the Oilers or $21 million from the Sharks.

If San Jose gets stung by the arbitrator, Kane would almost immediately be traded to the Oilers. And, because Holland has proven few teams were willing to meet Kane’s ask, he knows he’ll get the player for nothing but future considerations, which is, in fact, nothing. San Jose would immediately want to dump the contract so that it’s not on their books and the worst-case scenario is the Oilers pay him the same money over three years instead of four.

Holland Nailed This Kane Extension

Give credit where it’s due, Holland played these negotiations with Kane perfectly. First, he knew what he was willing to spend and didn’t get caught up in concern he’d lose the player. Second, he figured the market wasn’t as good as Kane and his agent had envisioned, so Holland let them both find out for themselves. Finally, the deal is set up in a way that the looming grievance case isn’t much of a factor now. All roads lead back to the Oilers and the money is virtually the same.

So too, with speculation that Jack Campbell is about to sign his deal with the Oilers, Holland still has room to make more moves and land a defenseman after the departure of Duncan Keith. The Oilers have a formidable top six, now have a goaltending tandem locked up for the next number of seasons, and have the cap room to make more additions.