Pretty much the entire league is asking the same question today — should we be interested in Evander Kane?
On one hand, you have a very skilled hockey player who can help teams win games. Kane led the San Jose Sharks with 22 goals and 49 points in 56 games last season and he has eight points through five games with the San Jose Barracuda of the AHL this season.
On the other hand, you have everything else. The Sharks placed Kane on unconditional waivers on Saturday, citing a breach of his contract and a violation of AHL COVID-19 protocols, in order to terminate his contract. Kane unsurprisingly cleared through and now the Sharks are off the hook from a problem that had been lingering for well over a year.
Kane’s off-ice troubles are extensive. The thing that ultimately got his contract terminated was the fact that he tried to travel across the Canada-U.S. border to Vancouver while he was on the Barracuda’s COVID-19 protocol list before the end of his required quarantine time. This was Kane’s second COVID-related violation, as he was also suspended for the first 21 games of the season for trying to provide a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.
Beyond that, Kane was also under investigation by the NHL for allegedly gambling on hockey games and for allegations of domestic abuse made by his estranged wife. The league determined that neither allegation could be substantiated but that isn’t the same as Kane being found innocent in a court of law. These allegations, especially the ones around domestic abuse, are ones that still need to be taken seriously.
Kevin Kurz and Corey Masisak give a detailed account of the Kane situation in San Jose at The Athletic.
According to Pierre LeBrun, Kane’s agent, Dan Milstein, said that plenty of teams are interested in signing him to what would be a one-year contract…
Kane's agent Dan Milstein says there's lots of interest from a number of teams for his UFA client. Would be a one-year deal for rest of the season whenever he finds a new NHL home.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) January 10, 2022
Now, of course, this should be taken with a grain of salt. Obviously, Kane’s agent is never to come out and say “nobody is interested in my client” even if that was actually the case. The objective of Kane’s agent in this situation is to get him signed and back in the league and saying there’s plenty of interest around the league could help alleviate the stigma attached to signing him.
From Edmonton’s perspective, there’s no doubt that the team could use Kane’s talents on the ice. He’s only 30 years old, and, as I mentioned earlier, is still a productive player.
The Oilers are a team that struggles to score goals when Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl aren’t on the ice and Kane would give them another play-driver who can puck the puck in the net. Kane would also make the team more difficult to play against, as he led the league in penalty minutes in both 2018-19 and 2019-20 with the Sharks.
The question for Edmonton is whether what Kane brings to the ice is worth the issues he could bring to the dressing room. Back in August, Kurtz reported in The Athletic that the Sharks tried to trade Kane over the off-season largely because of his strained relationship with his teammates.
According to one source, the frustration with Kane stemmed from a general “disrespect for team rules,” such as being late for practices and games.
“And zero consequences came, which caused a ripple effect with other, younger guys,” added the source. According to another source: “It wasn’t easy dealing with him this season.”
In the past, the Oilers have been a team to give players a second chance for things with varying degrees of severity. Recently, Zack Kassian was able to turn his career around in Edmonton after struggling with substance abuse. In the 1980s, Craig MacTavish got his second chance after missing the entire 1984-85 season after he was convicted of vehicular homicide.
The risks are many, as Kane has had enough issues to suggest this isn’t actually a ‘second chance’ situation, but the reward is high too, as he could be a game-changing talent coming in at a cheap cost.
What say you, Nation? Does Evander Kane deserve another shot in the league? Should the Oilers be the team to give him that opportunity? Personally, I wouldn’t want Kane on my team and believe that signing him would send a poor message. Let us know what you think.