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A delay with Evander Kane’s contract grievance might affect his free agency

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
5 months ago
Evander Kane is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13 and he’ll be looking to cash in following an excellent showing with the Edmonton Oilers.
The San Jose Sharks terminated Kane’s seven-year, $49 million contract back in January and he inked a one-year deal to join the Oilers the rest of the way. Kane scored 22 goals and 39 points for the Oilers in 43 regular season games and then added 13 goals and 17 points in the playoffs.
The challenge for Kane is that if he signs a deal with a team right at the start of free agency or agrees to an extension with the Oilers between now and then, that contract might wind up getting voided by the NHL.
As Frank Seravalli reported at Daily Faceoff, Kane is still in limbo when it comes to the grievance the NHL Players’ Association filed on his behalf against the Sharks for wrongfully terminating his contract. Kane wasn’t able for hearings on the grievance during Edmonton’s playoff run in May and the independent arbitrator for the case isn’t available during the month of June, so a conclusion might not be met until later in July.
As of right now, the NHL’s position is that Kane’s contract was rightfully terminated, Kane is a free agent, and he’s wiped from San Jose’s books. Kane’s position is that his contract was wrongfully terminated and the entirety of the deal should be reinstated.
So, hypothetically, the Oilers and Kane could agree to a three-year contract extension worth $15 million, and the arbitrator could later rule that Kane’s deal with the Sharks was wrongfully terminated and his deal with Edmonton would be voided and he would again be a member of the Sharks on the previous contract worth $7 million annually.
This has ramifications on how both Kane and the Sharks can approach free agency. Kane wouldn’t be able to cash in on the early free agent spending spree as a team wouldn’t want to make an investment only to have that contract voided a couple of weeks later and be left with nothing. Meanwhile, the Sharks don’t know how much cap space they have available to spend because they might have Kane on the books again.
All that points to the two sides reaching some kind of settlement. Seravalli noted Mike Richards as a comparable, as the Kings agreed to pay him $10.5 million, just under half of the money he was owed, spread through 2032, while getting hit with a $6.6 million in cap recapture penalties spread over five years.
It’s hard to say exactly what a settlement between the Sharks and Kane could look like, but, apparently, neither side is budging right now.
With under a month until free agency begins, Kane’s future is as difficult to predict as ever. The Oilers can’t find themselves in a situation in which they’re waiting for clarity on Kane and wind up missing out on other players because of it.

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