Oilers face a complicated cap situation if they sign Suspended Kane

If Ken Holland ultimately can’t sign Evander Kane because the pending UFA forward is suspended after a league investigation into his travel habits, is that better or worse for the Edmonton Oilers? Some might argue that the Oilers have dodged a bullet by not pursuing the winger. Others will suggest the Oilers won’t get a player they could really use and that another lengthy suspension isn’t fair considering his contract was terminated. The Oilers may need to navigate salary caps if Kane is suspended for violating another COVID protocol.

Kane’s latest news is that the NHL is investigating reports that he crossed the border after he tested positive for COVID. If he did so without the proper medical authority and permission, the former San Jose Sharks’ forward could be looking at another suspension, perhaps a lengthy one.

San Jose Sharks’ Evander Kane shoots on Edmonton Oilers’ Mike Smith (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

As is actually being reported by Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff, a memo from the league was sent to all 32 teams noting the NHL has launched an independent investigation into Kane’s cross-border travel and not only could Kane be suspended again, but he could face a criminal investigation for giving false testimony and violating the Canadian federal Quarantine Act.

Kane could be banned from signing with any NHL team if he is found guilty of violating these rules. Or, at the very minimum, the Oilers may have to reconsider signing him. Any team who takes a risk on Kane might immediately wish they hadn’t for financial reasons.

Kane could win 40 games

Gregor Continuing to writeIf Kane is found guilty of violating the rules, Kane’s 21-game suspension would be considered a minimum for how the next one might look. Kane could be suspended for as many as 40 games. If so, it’s fair for the Oilers to ask, what would be the point in signing him?

The team could have to pay half his salary if Ken Holland, the GM, still wants Kane. Gregor attempted to imagine what might happen by writing:

” he signs a contract. He is suspended for 40 matches. He owes the team money for the 40 games he missed to begin season. It doesn’t go to him, instead $$ goes to the player’s emergency fund like every player suspended. They don’t get money, but team still pays.

Others have argued against what Gregor is saying by suggesting a contract termination and an NHL suspension both won’t happen, but there’s very little precedent here to work from. Because the Sharks are the ones who terminated Kane’s deal and the suspension would be coming from the NHL specifically, things get tricky.

Signing a Suspended Kane: The Consequences

Both Shawn Simpson and Jason GregorTSN examined the situation of Kane, Oilers and Kane if Kane is found in violation COVID protocols. Simpson said that Kane could sign and be suspended for the remainder the season. Simpson says, “That would be money and cap space that is totally wasted.” Gregor argued that might not necessarily be the case.

He explains:

A COVID violation suspension wouldn’t count against cap. Well, at least it didn’t count against cap when he was suspended with Sharks. Also, league likely announces suspension before he is signed. If it is long suspension doubt any teams signs him for remainder of this season.

Cap wouldn’t be affected by a COVID violation suspension. It didn’t count against cap, but it was a suspension for violating COVID with Sharks.
The league will most likely announce his suspension before he signs. It is possible that the league suspends him for a long time. https://t.co/KSWlXYLFJZ

Simpson then responded of the suspension not counting against the Sharks’ cap: “I think that was a major favor to the Sharks, and not so sure any team that signs him this time will be so lucky.”

In short, it’s hard to know how this will all unfold. This only adds to the drama of the Oilers being interested and confirms, at a minimum, that the situation remains complex and fluid. Are the Oilers willing to pursue the player if it is necessary? Is there a point where Kane’s situation becomes untouchable for Holland? Is this bad news if the Oilers already signed Kane as some reports suggest?