A few teams looking to sign Evander Kane are eagerly awaiting to learn whether there will be consequences this week for the embattled free-agent winger for crossing the border while in COVID-19 protocol before attempting to sign him.
"There are some teams who have said they will not go in Evander Kane's direction," Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman said Saturday on the 32 Thoughts segment on Hockey Night in Canada. "But there are a couple who are hoping to see next week if there is clarity on whether or not Evander Kane will face any further penalty for potentially going over the border illegally from the United States to Canada on Dec 29.
"Now, he has maintained that he did nothing wrong, the NHL is investigating it, and the Canadian border services are believed to be investigating it, although they would not say anything about any specific case when they were asked about it this week.
"The NHL has said they will not provide a timeline, they will not commit to a timeline on when this investigation will be closed, but some teams are hoping to know next week if they will be able to sign Kane or whether or not he will face any further punishment."
Kane tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 21 and then flew to Vancouver on Dec. 29. At that time, Kane would have still been in the 10-day AHL COVID-19 protocol. When the San Jose Sharks terminated Kane's contract on Sunday, they said it was for “breach of his Standard Player Contract” and “violation of the AHL COVID-19 protocols.”
The NHL initially supported the Sharks' move, saying it was "satisfied the club has sufficient grounds to effectuate a termination." The NHLPA, however, challenged the termination before the current NHL investigation by filing a grievance.
Barring some kind of settlement, an arbitrator will rule on the issues raised in the grievance.
It is not clear at this time how the league's investigation will impact Kane's viability as a free agent signing, though several teams were believed to have been interested in his on-ice talent despite the off-ice concerns his acquisition would come with.
Among them were the Edmonton Oilers, whose general manager and president of hockey operations Ken Holland confirmed on Tuesday he had spoken to Kane's agent and believed in "second chances."
Before the season began, Kane was suspended for 21 games for the use of a fake COVID-19 vaccination card. When he was eligible to return, he joined the AHL's San Jose Barracudas, where he had eight points in five games.
The COVID-protocol suspension at the start of the season was only one part of the controversy surrounding Kane, though.
The NHL also investigated allegations of domestic assault made by Anna Kane, his estranged wife, in a divorce filing, ultimately saying they "could not be substantiated."
Anna Kane also said Evander Kane had bet on NHL games, including ones he played in with the Sharks, influencing their outcomes for his own financial benefit. The NHL's investigation into those claims did not find evidence he had bet on hockey games.
The 30-year-old Kane had 22 goals and 22 assists for 44 points in 56 games last season for the Sharks. Kane also has played for the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise and Buffalo since being drafted by the Thrashers fourth overall in 2009.