TORONTO — It’s all good times on the road for the San Jose Sharks right now.
After sweeping through Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto, the 4-0-0 Sharks are off to their best start since 2015-16.
San Jose can’t stay on the road forever though: There’s a $28 million dollar problem waiting for them at home.
That would be Evander Kane, suspended for 21 games until Nov. 30 — and due four more years at $7 million dollar per.
So how will the San Jose Sharks solve a problem like Evander?
It won’t be by terminating or voiding Kane’s contract, according to Chris Johnston of the Toronto Star: “The Sharks don’t have the option to void or terminate what’s left of his contract, according to two well-placed sources, and any attempt to do so would almost certainly be met with an immediate challenge from the NHLPA.”
Months ago, San Jose Hockey Now suggested a Mike Richards-like settlement.
In June 2015, the Los Angeles Kings terminated Mike Richards’s contract and the NHLPA filed a grievance on the player’s behalf. Eventually, the Kings and Richards reached a settlement — Los Angeles ended up paying 60 percent of Richards’s remaining contract over the next 17 years, cap hit included.
With termination out of the picture, this could be an appealing option to the Sharks and Kane: San Jose could spread out the cap hit and Kane would still make a large chunk of money.
However, a highly-placed NHL source told San Jose Hockey Now that such a settlement is not in the cards — at this point.
The Kings and Richards were heading to independent arbitration before the settlement, and the NHL believed that the Kings had an argument for winning the case and voiding Richards’s contract in its entirety.
“In our view, the Kings had a ‘Bona Fide’ opportunity to win this grievance,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said then. “In that case, they would have no cap hit at all. This way, there’s some penalty.”
The case for voiding Evander Kane’s contract, apparently, isn’t as strong as LA’s case was against Richards.
Meanwhile, the 31 other NHL teams and the NHLPA aren’t likely to embrace a San Jose Sharks-Kane settlement.
“Privately, other teams are screaming bloody murder and are threatening to make an issue about [the Kings-Richards settlement],” Elliotte Friedman reported then. “The NHLPA did get, in writing, assurances the Richards grievance could not be used as precedent in any future cases.”
In short, for the San Jose Sharks, I wouldn’t rule a Richards-like settlement with Kane out — but it doesn’t sound likely.
So that’s one less mechanism for the Sharks to use to rid themselves, once and for all, of Kane.
What other recourse is left for the San Jose? We’ll dive into that further as Nov. 30 draws near.
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