Oilers Face Complicated Cap Situation If Team Signs Suspended Kane

If Ken Holland ultimately can’t sign Evander Kane because the pending UFA forward is suspended after a league investigation into his travel habits, is that better or worse for the Edmonton Oilers? Some may argue the Oilers will have dodged a bullet if the team has to back off of their quest to add the winger. Others will suggest the Oilers won’t get a player they could really use and that another lengthy suspension isn’t fair considering his contract was terminated. In both cases, the Oilers might have some salary cap navigating to do if the NHL dings Kane with another COVID protocol violation.

The latest news on Kane is that the NHL is looking into reports he traveled over the border after testing positive for COVID. If he did so without the proper medical authority and permission, the former San Jose Sharks’ forward could be looking at another suspension, perhaps a lengthy one.

Evander Kane,Mike Smith
San Jose Sharks’ Evander Kane shoots on Edmonton Oilers’ Mike Smith (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

In fact, as is being reported by Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff, a memo from the league was sent to all 32 teams noting the NHL has launched an independent investigation into Kane’s cross-border travel and not only could Kane be suspended again, but he could face a criminal investigation for giving false testimony and violating the Canadian federal Quarantine Act.

If Kane is found to have violated these rules, he might not be able to sign with another NHL club, or at the very least, a team like the Oilers might have to reconsider signing him if the suspension is lengthy enough. Any team who takes a risk on Kane might immediately wish they hadn’t for financial reasons.

Kane Could Get 40 Games

Gregor went on to write that if Kane is found to have violated the rules, his last suspension of 21 games would be a minimum for what this next one could look like. The reality is, Kane could get closer to 40 games. If so, it’s fair for the Oilers to ask, what would be the point in signing him?

Not only that, if GM Ken Holland still wanted Kane and was eager to make a push for him next season, the team would potentially have to pay half of his salary just to sit out. Gregor tried to paint a possible scenario of what could happen when he wrote:

” he signs a contract. He is suspended for 40 games. The team still owes the money for those 40 games he sits out to start season. It doesn’t go to him, instead $$ goes to the player’s emergency fund like every player suspended. They don’t get money, but team still pays.

Others have argued against what Gregor is saying by suggesting a contract termination and an NHL suspension both won’t happen, but there’s very little precedent here to work from. Because the Sharks are the ones who terminated Kane’s deal and the suspension would be coming from the NHL specifically, things get tricky.

Consequences of Signing a Suspended Kane

Both Jason Gregor and Shawn Simpson of TSN took a look at what happens with the Kane and Oilers situation if Kane is found to be in violation of COVID protocols. Simpson noted that the Oilers could run into an issue if Kane signs and is suspended for the remainder of the season. Simpson says, “That would be money and cap space that is totally wasted.” Gregor argued that might not necessarily be the case.

He explains:

A COVID violation suspension wouldn’t count against cap. Well, at least it didn’t count against cap when he was suspended with Sharks. Also, league likely announces suspension before he is signed. If it is long suspension doubt any teams signs him for remainder of this season.

Simpson then responded of the suspension not counting against the Sharks’ cap: “I think that was a major favor to the Sharks, and not so sure any team that signs him this time will be so lucky.”

In short, it’s hard to know how this will all unfold. It only adds to the drama surrounding the Oilers being interested in the player and confirms, at the very least, the situation is complicated and fluid. Are the Oilers desperate enough to keep pursuing the player? Is there a point where Kane’s situation becomes untouchable for Holland? If the Oilers have already signed Kane, as some reports suggest, is this really bad news?

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