According to Michael Traikos, a National writer for Post Media, “The Toronto Maple Leafs are believed to be one of several teams that are interested in signing Evander Kane to a one-year “show-me” contract.” They are one of six teams that are rumored to have already reached out to Kane’s agent and shown interest in signing the forward now that he is a UFA.
Kane’s contract was terminated by the San Jose Sharks on Sunday. And, while the NHLPA files a grievance on his behalf, Kane can still sign with another team. In fact, should Kane win his grievance, the Sharks might be forced to pay Kane the close to $23 million he’s owed and a new team can sign the controversial forward at a discount.
The question then becomes, why are the Maple Leafs one of six teams showing interest? After all, the team is playing fairly well, a disruption in team chemistry would be disastrous and this move comes with risks.
Maple Leafs Are Willing to Overlook Risks
As per Traikos, “the potential reward of adding Kane outweighs any supposed risk that comes with a player who has burned more than a couple of bridges during his tumultuous time in the NHL.” In other words, general manager Kyle Dubas knows what’s at stake, but he also thinks the pros outweigh the cons.
Traikos argues that Dubas is looking at the prospect of having to face either the Tampa Bay Lightning or Boston Bruins in a first-round playoff match-up and he wants to ensure the Maple Leafs are deep enough to get through that round. Frankly, if the Maple Leafs don’t advance, Traikos believes Dubas knows it could be the end of the line for him as the team’s general manager, while also potentially bringing an end to Sheldon Keefe’s run as head coach, and maybe even Mitch Marner‘s time as a Maple Leaf.
This is it for Toronto. If they don’t make a long run this year, those involved with the building of this roster might not get another crack at it.
The Outlook is Too Promising to Pass Up
Traikos admits the issues that potentially come with Kane are problematic. He also hints that there’s a line worth crossing, where what the player can do on the ice is worth taking into consideration. When it comes to Kane, Traikos notes, “We’re talking about a 30-goal scorer who had 49 points in 56 games with the Sharks last season. He can check. He can fight. And he can move up and down the lineup with ease.”
The scribe suggests fans picture the image of a 6-foot-2 and 210-pound power forward like Kane playing on a line with Auston Matthews and Marner. Even if he’s used in limited minutes on the third line with Alex Kerfoot and David Kampf, it’s a very attractive idea.
There are a number of reasons for the Leafs to stay away from this player, many of which are valid. There are also a variety of reasons to make the leap.
Maple Leafs Can Bury Kane If It Doesn’t Work Out
Considering reports are that Kane is willing to sign for $1.5- to $2-million on a one-year and is open to playing for much less than the $7 million he was making in San Jose if he’s signed by a championship contender, Kane is an affordable, but also removable if things do go sideways.
While Dubas might be scared off considering how poorly the Nick Foligno signing worked out last season, Traikos argues:
With Kane, this risk is far less. If he doesn’t work out, you bury him in the minors and move on. It doesn’t cost you anything aside from potentially changing the chemistry in the dressing room.
He adds that this locker room has Jason Spezza, Wayne Simmonds, and others who can counteract anything Kane might bring in terms of an attitude issue and the Leafs have tried, rather successfully, to bring in reclamation projects before. They didn’t retain Alex Galchenyuk this season, but the forward was fairly effective for Toronto in 2020-21.
Whether the Maple Leafs land Kane or even attempt to will be a polarizing idea in Toronto. At the same time, it’s easy to see why Dubas is considering the option and has reached out.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”