Since being traded to the San Jose Sharks at the trade deadline, Evander Kane put up a not-unimpressive 14 points in 17 games, and 5 points in 9 playoff games. He got shipped to San Jose from Buffalo for a prospect on the brink of making the NHL, Danny O’Regan, and a conditional second and fourth round pick in 2019.
However, because Kane inked a 7 year, $49 million contract on May 24th with a modified no move clause that allows for a three team trade list to be submitted each season, that conditional second round pick has become the Sharks’ 2019 first round pick instead. Kane was on a 67 point pace had he played a full season in San Jose.
Even in a league with the salary cap expected to rise to somewhere between $78-$82 million by next season, the signing feels like a bit of a kick in the teeth. Such a massive contract shouldn’t be given to a player as unreliable as Kane.
The closest he’s come to a full season in the NHL is the 78 game total he managed this season, and before that a 74 game season in 2011-12, when he was just 20 years old. With a past littered with injuries, this contract could become a burden for San Jose extremely quickly, especially in the latter years when the 26 year old forward will be playing over age 30.
There are also his off ice issues to contend with, but it seems like the Sharks are hopeful that the change in scenery will promote good behaviour off the ice, though he’s already been soured for many by his past. It will be hard for some fans to look over his legal trouble, particularly female fans after he was arrested for harassing women in a Buffalo bar.
The Evander Kane signing likens, in some minds at least, to the Washington Capitals signing of TJ Oshie in July 2017— too much money for too much time. Admittedly, Kane makes more money in less time than the Capitals forward, and Kane is younger than Oshie at the time of signing the contract, but there are similarities nonetheless. Players making with a lower cap hit than Kane include Colorado’s Nathan Mackinnon and New Jersey’s Taylor Hall, both far better players on contracts easier to stomach.
Questions should be raised about whether Kane was simply riding a hot hand in San Jose, there’s no guarantee that he’ll adjust well to lineup changes should Joe Thornton return for next season after a summer of rehabbing an injured knee.
The number of variables are too high to properly predict the full impact of the signing. With every other San Jose forward due a new contract in the next three years, Kane’s contract will make it difficult for players like Chris Tierney to remain with the team after Couture and Hertl get long term-high cost contracts.
To earn the money and term he’s on, plus the first round pick he was traded for, Kane will have to find a new gear for the upcoming season and whether or not that’s possible is up for debate. This season boasted his second highest points total, at 54 points shared between Buffalo and San Jose, and he scored his first career hat trick this season.
There seems to be no evidence that Kane will become a 70-80 point player overnight, particularly if his scoring for the Sharks turned out just to be a hot streak that inevitably ends. So where that leaves the Sharks, and particularly Sharks fans, is in somewhat of a predicament if Kane remains a 50 point player.
It’s starting to look like Doug Wilson wanted his very own unmovable Bobby Ryan contract to sour the almost too good to be true salary cap situation that the Sharks had. The trade deadline proved there was little to no market for Kane, so to hand out the contract that Wilson did looks like a high risk move with a potential for a dismally low reward.
Personally, I hate this contract. It’s too much time for too much money on a player than hasn’t proved he can stay healthy, or even score more than 60 points. The contract will be impossible to move and the money from would be better served going towards Couture, Hertl and Pavelski in the coming years.
Hell, even Tierney would be a better investment, and with a slew of ELC’s ending in the next two years, San Jose cannot afford to have so much money wrapped up in a player with such low point totals.
But, like any fan, my opinions on this abysmal contract mean nothing and it’s up to Wilson and Kane to prove me, and many other Sharks fans wrong.
Feature image credit: Toronto Star