NHL Rumors: Oilers, Lightning, Bruins, Maple Leafs

In today’s NHL rumors rundown, there is still a ton of talk that Evander Kane is going to become an Edmonton Oilers forward, but there is a delay in that signing potentially happening. In fact, Kane might be facing more legal issues and an investigation into the player’s travel history is underway. Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins were said to back out of the Kane sweepstakes pretty early. Speaking of the Lightning, it is being said their plans are to stay relatively quiet during this year’s trade deadline. Finally, the Toronto Maple Leafs might be looking at defenseman John Klingberg?

Delay in a Possible Evander Kane Signing

There are some potential issues with the Edmonton Oilers (or any other team) simply signing Kane after he became a UFA. The NHL is apparently looking into allegations that the former Sharks’ forward crossed the border right after testing positive for COVID and that could result in another suspension by the league, not to mention real legal troubles. If that happens, it would affect his availability to whichever team signs him.

Evander Kane - Sharks
Evander Kane, San Jose Sharks, Oct. 9, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As per Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff, a memo from the league was sent to all 32 teams about Kane. It noted, that the NHL has launched an independent investigation into the circumstances pursuant to which Kane traveled cross-border during the Holiday Period. They want to ensure that his travel took place in accordance with applicable law both in the U.S. and Canada. If he didn’t follow the rules, not only could he be suspended again, but he could face a criminal investigation for giving false testimony and violating the Canadian federal Quarantine Act. That could result in jail time.

Oilers Still the Favorite to Land Kane

While it sounds like Tampa Bay has pulled out of the running, according to Shawn Simpson of TSN, “Sounds like Kane is already signed by Edmonton for $1.5 million pro rated. Technically he needs to be under contract before any suspension kicks in.” While there is some pushback from other reporters that a deal is in place, Simpson adds:

The other issue the Oilers run into. You won’t register the contract now, and then find out he’s suspended the rest of the year. That would be money and cap space that is totally wasted. Curious how long the league investigation will take?

Connor McDavid said during a media avail that he doesn’t care about the optics of what adding Kane to the Oilers roster might suggest. His job is to worry about wins and McDavid noted, “If fans don’t like it, or the media doesn’t like it, or whatever… it is what it is.” He added, “I think Evander is a great player and can help us a lot on the ice and that’s first a foremost”.

Head coach Dave Tippett said he was not prepared to comment about a guy that isn’t on their team yet. He’s got bigger issues to worry about.

Lightning to Stay Quiet During Deadline

It’s been said before, but reports are that the Lightning don’t plan to be terribly active during this year’s NHL trade deadline. Joe Smith of The Athletic is reporting that GM Julien BriseBois doesn’t think it will be a busy time of year for the team given their salary cap position.

Julien Brisebois Tampa Bay Lightning
Julien Brisebois, General Manager, Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

He quotes BriseBois who said:

“This year, we have no cap space. We have no one we can send to the minors without requiring waivers, and none of our players would clear waivers. We legitimately have no cap space. If we’re looking to add a player, it means subtracting a player, and all of our players are good players on good contracts and provide really good value. So it’s unlikely we’re going to find a player we can acquire that brings more value for cap hit than whatever player we would be moving out.”

source – ‘Five things we learned from Lightning GM Julien BriseBois, including why they passed on Evander Kane’ – ‘Joe Smith – The Athletic – 01/12/2022

Bruins Weren’t Seriously in on Kane

According to Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy, if things between Kane and the Oilers fall through, don’t expect him to suit up with the Boston Bruins. Sources say at most the club made an inquiry but the process didn’t go very far.

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Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said general manager Don Sweeney hasn’t consulted him about signing the former San Jose Sharks winger and one would assume that a GM is going to talk his coach and a number of the key members of the leadership group before making that kind of decision.

Maple Leafs and Klingberg?

Sportsnet’s Luke Fox recently suggested the Maple Leafs are out of the running for Kane but also noted that Dallas Stars’ defenseman John Klingberg could be a good fit. Suggesting the Leafs might be interested if they can find sufficient cap space, Fox pointed out GM Kyle Dubas’ willingness to spend big and get creative ahead of the trade deadline.

Fox writes:

Klingberg’s cap hit ($4.25 million) is a bargain for what he brings: 52 games of playoff experience in which he’s put up 34 points; good size (6-foot-3, 190 pounds); and the ability to munch 22 minutes a night. The rental market won’t bring many defencemen of Klingberg’s calibre, and it is no secret Dubas would like to upgrade either Justin Holl or Travis Dermott from his right side. Klingberg’s speed, poise and hockey sense could complement Jake Muzzin nicely.