As previously discussed in “Evander Kane Grievance Hearing To Need Another Day,” the NHLPA filed on behalf of Kane after the Sharks, whom Kane played four seasons with, placed him on unconditional waivers in January of 2022. Last week, the Sharks and Kane settled the grievance over his contract termination last season before the matter would have gone to arbitration.
Kane was due $19 million in salary for the last three years of his Sharks contract. After signing a free agent contract with the Oilers last season, Kane and the Oilers agreed to a four-year extension this summer. Over the first three years of his contract with the Oilers, Kane is due $16.5 million in salary. The settlement is expected to bridge the gap between the money owed to Kane by the Sharks and the money he is making on his new deal with the Oilers, resulting in about $2.5 million going to Kane in a one-time payment. According to Frank Seravalli, “[it] sounds like Evander Kane will receive a one-time payment from the Sharks and the cap penalty will be retroactively applied to last season’s salary cap.” The Sharks ended last season with just under $5 million in salary cap space, according to Cap Friendly. Kane’s agent, Dan Milstein declined comment at this time, but at the time of the grievance stated, “the Sharks do not have sufficient grounds for taking this action.” Was this settlement a signal from the Sharks that they believe they would not have obtained a favorable result in arbitration?
On Friday, September 16th, the Sharks released a statement that said “[t]he San Jose Sharks have reached an agreement with Evander Kane regarding the termination of his NHL Standard Player Contract. The agreement has been approved by the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association. We are satisfied that the terms will not adversely impact the team, either financially or competitively, in this or future seasons.” Had the arbitrator ruled in favor of the Sharks, they would have been released from their obligation to pay Kane $19 million over the next three years.
The settlement reached between Kane and the Sharks simplified a situation that could have gotten rather complex if it were submitted to arbitration. Hypothetically, if the arbitrator had ruled in Kane’s favor, his contract with the Sharks could have been reinstated and his deal with the Oilers would have been moot. How would this have played out if it were to occur? Would Kane then rejoin the Sharks? Would the Sharks buy him out resulting in him joining the Oilers? Would the Oilers appeal the decision in order to keep Kane on the roster? All of these potential issues could have come about had Kane and the Sharks not settled this dispute.
The Sharks are likely very pleased with the settlement result, given how uncertain arbitration would have been. While the settlement results in the Sharks facing a salary cap change, it allowed them to mitigate the risk that an arbitration decision could have brought. In addition, the salary cap charge is to be applied retroactively, indicating it will not impact General Manager Mike Grier’s roster-building decisions moving forward. Given the Sharks’ status as a rebuilding team, the retroactive nature of the salary cap charge is likely one major reason the Sharks agreed to the settlement. Arbitration could have brought a result that hampered the Sharks for years to come.
While nobody questions Kane’s on-ice ability, there have been questions as to his character off the ice. Character concerns and questionable decision making are some of the primary reasons the Sharks terminated Kane’s contract last season. It will be interesting to see if any similar concerns materialize as Kane begins his new four-year $20.5 million contract with the Oilers.