In this edition of San Jose Sharks News & Rumors, the team terminated the contract of Evander Kane on Sunday for violating COVID-19 protocols. Meanwhile, rumors continue to swirl about the future of Tomas Hertl. In other news, Alexander Barabanov has been placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.
Kane’s Contract Terminated
This past year, the Sharks have had tons of drama surrounding them, the majority of which has come from the antics of Kane. After being suspended 21 games by the NHL to begin the 2021-22 season due to violating COVID-19 protocols, he was assigned to the San Jose Barracuda in the American Hockey League (AHL), but ended up playing in just five games, as the organization announced this past week that he was being placed on unconditional waivers for the purposes of terminating his contract.
The reasoning behind this was due to yet another COVID violation. The NHLPA has since filed a grievance on Kane’s behalf, but nothing has yet to come of it. Assuming the decision stands, the Sharks will be off the hook for the final three years of his contract, which carried an average annual value of $7 million.
One would think that given all Kane’s drama the past year, teams would want to stay far away. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case, as several teams have reportedly contacted his agent, with the Edmonton Oilers currently being listed as the frontrunner. From a hockey perspective it makes sense given that Kane produced 49 points in 56 games last season, but he has proven time and time again to be more of a liability than an asset due to his off-ice behavior.
Hertl’s Future Uncertain
Since the beginning of the 2021-22 season, there has been plenty of speculation regarding the future of Hertl. The 28-year-old is in the final year of a four-year, $22.5 million deal that carries a cap hit of $5.625 million. Based on his comments, he seems open to remaining a Shark beyond this season, but many believe the team will move him.
Related: 4 Takeaways From Sharks’ Stunning OT Win Against Detroit
In an article written by Adam Proteau of The Hockey News, he discusses the very true reality that despite Hertl’s comments about wanting to stay with the Sharks, it may be more lip service than anything else. The fact of the matter is this Sharks roster is getting quite old, and as a result may continue to struggle for a number of seasons moving forward. Hertl, who is arguably already the teams best offensive player with 20 goals in 37 games this season, will be relied upon even more with players like Logan Couture, Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson continuing to age. Being able to join a contender at the deadline and sign with a more competitive team in the summer may be too much to pass up.
Barabanov Placed on COVID Protocol
The Sharks have had a tough time staying healthy as of late, and that continued on Wednesday when it was announced that Barabanov was being placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. It is a tough go for the 27-year-old, who is in the midst of a breakout season with 20 points in 32 games. Heading into the 2021-22 campaign, he only had 16 NHL career games under his belt.
Barabanov joins Nick Bonino as the only other Shark on the COVID protocol list, though the team remains far from healthy. They currently have players in Kevin Labanc, Jake Middleton, James Reimer, Radim Simek, Nikolai Knyzhov, and Jonah Gadjovich who are all dealing with injuries at the moment. The hope is that a few of them will be able to go for Thursday nights game, but that remains to be seen.
Up Next for the Sharks
The Sharks have two games remaining this week, both of which come against difficult opponents. The first is a game versus the New York Rangers on Thursday, while the second will come against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. They are massive games for a Sharks team who is currently holding the second wild card position in the Western Conference. There is very little room for error right now as the Calgary Flames are just a single point behind them and have four games in hand.