In this edition of San Jose Sharks News & Rumors, a date for a second grievance hearing over Evander Kane’s contract termination has yet to be decided. In other news, Timo Meier and management have reportedly not begun contract negotiations as his current deal is set to expire at season’s end. Meanwhile, extension talks with restricted free agent (RFA) Jonah Gadjovich are ongoing, but nothing has been agreed upon to this point. Last but not least, the Sharks announced a new ECHL affiliation with the Wichita Thunder for the 2022-23 season.
Grievance Hearing Date for Kane Not Yet Decided
It’s crazy that we are still talking about this situation in late August, but the grievance filed in January by the NHLPA on Kane’s behalf is ongoing. The first hearing took play on April 19, but a date for the second meeting has not yet been scheduled, according to Sharks reporter Curtis Pashelka.
After the Sharks terminated Kane’s contract for what was deemed to be a violation of COVID-19 protocols, he signed with the Edmonton Oilers for the remainder of the 2021-22 season. His play alongside Connor McDavid was so strong that he was rewarded with a four-year, $20.5 million deal his offseason.
What remains to be seen, however, is what will happen if Kane wins his case. If so, his contract, which had three years remaining, worth an average annual value of $7 million, would be re-instated. That would be a serious issue for the Oilers, who would have to fit it under their cap. On top of that, he may no longer be on their roster and could end up back with the Sharks. This is all speculation since no one seems to know what exactly is going on with this.
Meier & Sharks Not Yet Discussing Extension
After two straight disappointing seasons, Meier needed to get back on track in 2021-22, and the 25-year-old had a career year with 35 goals and 76 points in 77 outings. It is great that he pulled his game together; however, it also means the price to re-sign him has gone up dramatically. That said, talks of a new deal have yet to be discussed between him and management.
Related: San Jose Sharks News & Rumors: Subban, Gregor, Wiseman
“There hasn’t been any conversation about that,” Meier said. “I haven’t really thought too much about it, to be honest. I know my contract is up in a year, but I’m trying to focus on getting ready for the season and getting ready physically, doing my work during the offseason, and having a good start to the season. So that’s kind of my only focus right now since the other stuff hasn’t been brought up, and I’m not a guy that likes to think too much about that stuff.”
Meier is set to begin the fourth and final year of a contract that pays him $6 million annually. As mentioned, he will be in line for a significant pay raise on his new deal, likely in the same range as his teammate Tomas Hertl, who secured an eight-year, $65.1 million deal in March. That deal will carry an average annual value of roughly $8.14 million. It’s safe to say Meier won’t come cheap if the Sharks intend to keep him around long-term.
Gadjovich & Sharks Trying to Find Common Ground
On Monday, Pashelka sent out a tweet regarding Gadjovich’s status, saying that he and the Sharks are still trying to work out a new contract. The 23-year-old is the team’s last RFA, and according to his agent, Jason Harshaw, both sides would like to get a deal resolved sooner than later, with training camp less than a month away.
It’s curious that there’s a hold-up on this, as Gadjovich struggled last season after being claimed off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks in October. In 43 regular season games with the Sharks, he managed just one goal and three points. That said, he does still have plenty of potential and could prove that he is an everyday NHLer in 2022-23.
Sharks Announce New ECHL Affiliate
On Thursday afternoon, the Sharks announced that they have a new ECHL affiliation with the Thunder for the 2022-23 season. It will mark the ninth season in the ECHL for the Thunder, who previously served as an affiliate for the Oilers.
“We’re looking forward to working with the Wichita Thunder, including head coach Bruce Ramsay and general manager Joel T. Lomurno,” Sharks assistant general manager and San Jose Barracuda general manager Joe Will said. “Having a solid affiliation in the ECHL is important to our player development plan, and the ECHL has a solid track record with preparing prospects for their NHL and AHL careers.”
James Reimer and Steven Lorentz both spent time in the ECHL early in their pro careers, and assistant coach Scott Gordon became the first player ever to play in the ECHL and go on to play games in the NHL. Having a new ECHL affiliate will play a big part in developing future Sharks, and this is the first time they have had an affiliate at that level since they were partnered with the Allen Americans from 2014-2018.
Looking Ahead for the Sharks
Given that Meier and the Sharks have yet to begin contract discussions, there likely won’t be anything completed before training camp. That makes the Gadjovich situation the most intriguing right now. If this situation continues, it could open up a spot for a young player to crack the opening night roster.