Sharks News & Rumors: Kane, Karlsson, Knyzhov

In this edition of San Jose Sharks News & Rumors, the NHL wrapped up their investigation on Evander Kane violating COVID-19 protocols and decided to give him a very lengthy suspension. In other news, Erik Karlsson, who hasn’t been himself in recent seasons, told media earlier this week he still believes he is one of the best players in the world. Meanwhile, another Sharks defenceman in Nikolai Knyzhov will be out of the lineup for the foreseeable future as he is set to undergo surgery later this week.

Kane Given Lengthy Suspension

After the NHL announced an investigation into Kane allegedly violating COVID-19 protocols last week, they clearly found evidence and chose to suspend him for 21 games. Elliotte Friedman had originally broken the news about an investigation, but at the time it was unclear exactly what Kane had done. It has since come out that he used a fake COVID-19 vaccine card, and shortly after the suspension was announced the NHLPA released the following statement on his behalf.

Related: 3 Takeaways from Sharks Season Opener Win Over the Jets

“I would like to apologize to my teammates, the San Jose Sharks organization, and all Sharks fans for violating the NHL COVID protocols. I made a mistake, one I sincerely apologize for. During my suspension, I will continue to participate in counselling to help me make better decisions in the future. When my suspension is over, I plan to return to the ice with great effort, determination, and love for the game of hockey.”

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

That wasn’t the only statement to come out regarding the suspension, as the Sharks organization released one of its own.

“The NHL has advised our organization that Evander Kane has been suspended without pay for 21 games for an established violation of, and lack of compliance with, the NHL/NHLPA COVID-19 Protocols.

While we are encouraged by Evander’s commitment to moving forward, we are extremely disappointed by his disregard for the health and safety protocols put in place by the NHL and the NHLPA.

We will not be commenting further on Evander’s status prior to the conclusion of the NHL’s mandated suspension.”

With this, along with all the other headlines that have surfaced around Kane this year, there has been suggestion that the team would be best to move on from him. However, that may not be as easy as one would think

TSN’s Chris Johnston said on Tuesday night that the team won’t have the option of terminating Kane’s contract. The reasoning behind this is that the 21-game suspension he received is his punishment, meaning that once it is served he wouldn’t be able to be punished further for the COVID-19 protocols violation. Instead, Johnston suggested that the team may consider burying him in the American Hockey League, or try paying him to stay home. A trade at this point and time with his contract that still has four more years with a cap hit of $7 million seems like a near impossibility.

Karlsson Believes He Is Still an Elite Player

For many seasons as an Ottawa Senator, Karlsson was seen as not only the best defenceman in the game, but by many as the best player. He had at least 62 points in five straight seasons from 2013-2018, including a career-high 82 set during the 2015-16 season. Unfortunately, his numbers and overall play have declined immensely over the past two seasons, though he made it clear this past Saturday that he still thinks highly of himself.

“I obviously still think that I’m one of the best players in the world,” he said to Curtis Pashelka of The Mercury News. “That’s where I’ve been for a very long time, that’s where I want to go, that’s where I want to stay.” (from ‘Curtis Pashelka: Erik Karlsson’s self-belief isn’t wavering: ‘I still think I’m one of the best in the world,” The Mercury News, 10/16/21)

San Jose Sharks Erik Karlsson
San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Though the Sharks are expected to struggle in 2021-22, they could really surprise both fans and opposing teams if Karlsson is indeed able to get back to the player he once was. As mentioned, he was without a doubt one of the game’s most elite players for a number of seasons, and was able to prove that by winning two Norris Trophies in 2011-12 and 2014-15. He is off to a great start early this season with four points in two games.

Knyzhov Set to Go Under the Knife

Early on in training camp, it was announced that Knyzhov would miss some time due to a nagging lower-body injury, though Sharks head coach Bob Boughner believed the injury was nothing major at the time, describing him as week-to-week. Boughner recently confirmed that the 23-year-old is set to undergo surgery on Oct. 22, and that he will miss approximately 8-10 weeks.

This is a very disappointing injury for Knyzhov, who unexpectedly cracked the Sharks roster out of training camp last year and had a very solid rookie season with them. Thanks to that, he was expected to begin the 2021-22 campaign in a top-four role, meaning the Sharks will need to either trade for a replacement or hope someone internally can step up. With this timeline, it is possible we don’t see him until the new year.

Hot Start for the Sharks

Though they are only two games into the season, the Sharks look very solid early on with wins over both the Winnipeg Jets and the Montreal Canadiens. They will have Wednesday night off before a back-to-back set on Thursday and Friday against the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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