Kane Settlement With Sharks Good and Bad News for Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers got some seemingly good news on recently-signed forward Evander Kane. While it felt unlikely at this point that something could go off the rails, his lingering grievance with the San Jose Sharks left the door open that he could return to that organization should an arbitrator rule that San Jose was responsible for paying the total balance of his contract before it was terminated. That’s no longer an issue.

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According to a number of reports, including ones from Kevin Weekes and Elliotte Friedman, the Sharks and Kane have agreed to settle their differences. An arbitrator will no longer be required.

What Was the Issue With Kane’s Deal?

As a quick refresher and for those that weren’t sure how all of this Kane business with San Jose could have unfolded, the Sharks believed they rightfully terminated Kane’s long-term, $7 million per season deal halfway through its term. Kane disagreed and filed a grievance to be paid the outstanding money owed. The two sides couldn’t come to an understanding and it was deemed an arbitrator would be required.

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The issue was that the NHL’s arbitrator wasn’t available for months and the Edmonton Oilers wanted to bring Kane back. Because the Oilers and the player liked the fit and needed to get something done so both sides could prepare for the upcoming campaign, he signed a four-year extension with Edmonton after having a fantastic half-season in 2021-22. Assuming things got worked out between San Jose and Kane, there would be no issues. If the arbitrator awarded in favor of Kane, things could have gotten interesting.

Why Was This A Concern for the Oilers?

Should it have been deemed that the Sharks owed Kane his full salary, the organization could have elected to reinstate his contract and take the player back. That would have left the deal he signed with the Oilers null and void. It was unlikely since San Jose wanted nothing to do with Kane, but that possibility existed and that was problematic for Edmonton.

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

Had Kane been reverted back to the Sharks and once again become the property of the team, Edmonton would have lost the player. That would have meant either working out a separate deal with San Jose in terms of a trade or moving forward without a player the team projects will score 40 goals this coming season alongside Connor McDavid. There are still plenty of viable options out there on the market, but none as good as Kane.

The Theoretical Downside for the Oilers

While the Oilers will have Kane in their uniform for the next four seasons and the Sharks aren’t going to be an issue moving forward, this isn’t potentially all good news. One of the outcomes if the Sharks took Kane back was the possibility of a trade between Edmonton and San Jose that could have helped the Oilers’ salary cap. This deal could have been bigger than just one player and specifically, the Oilers would have had some leverage in negotiations.

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Based on the news coming out about this settlement, San Jose is essentially paying Kane $2.5 million dollars. It’s not clear if that money is due moving forward but it sounds like the penalty is retroactive, which means it won’t actually ding the Sharks and complicate new GM Mike Grier’s roster planning. Either way, what is owed to Kane by the Sharks might have been leverage for the Oilers as it’s essentially the difference between what he signed for with Edmonton and what San Jose owed him. Because the Sharks will take this on as a penalty, San Jose might have been willing to play ball to help the Oilers out salary cap-wise to avoid it.

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Frank Seravalli writes, “Expectation is #sjsharks will have a salary cap charge and Kane will be due money from SJ.” In an ideal scenario, the Sharks might have been willing to take on one of the Oilers’ depth players and the salary that came with it, thus helping out Ken Holland, who badly needs some assistance with his current cap issue.

While both sides mitigate the all-or-nothing arbitration risk, the Oilers could have used a little salary cap luck. San Jose being forced to take a contract back might have been just what the doctor ordered.