Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland has confirmed he spoke with agent Evander Kane, the controversial free winger whose contract was terminated by the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.
Holland said he had conversations about Kane with agent Dan Milstein, who was also former Red Wings center agent Pavel Datsyuk when Holland was general manager in Detroit.
“As a manager it is my responsibility to investigate every situation,” said Holland.
Kane, 30, was in the fourth year of a seven-year, $ 49 million contract when the Sharks ended the deal, saying they did so for violating his standard player contract and for violation of AHL COVID-19 protocols. Sources told ESPN that Kane broke league rules by returning home to Vancouver, B.C., while on COVID-19 protocols last month. The NHLPA filed a grievance on behalf of Kane.
Controversy followed Kane through his 12-year NHL career with the Atlanta Thrashers, Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabers and through his four years with the Sharks. This season, he was the subject of an NHL investigation after being accused by his ex-wife, Anna Kane, of domestic assault and betting on NHL games, including his with San Jose. The NHL said the assault allegations “could not be substantiated” and found no evidence that he was betting on hockey.
Kane was not invited to the Sharks’ preseason training camp due to the inquiries.
He later served a 21-game suspension for submitting a bogus vaccination card to his team and the NHL, and was demoted to the AHL once it was over.
Holland said that in a case like Kane’s, he believed in second chances if they were deserved. “You have to understand everything that’s happened in that person’s life. I believe in second chances. It’s hard to be perfect,” said Holland. “We are all human beings. Some make big mistakes, some make small mistakes. I think if someone makes a mistake in their life, they have to try to learn from it and try to change.”
ESPN’s Kevin Weekes reported that “the most competing teams” in the NHL asked for Kane’s signature. Despite his off-ice issues, Kane has scored more than 20 goals in six straight seasons and tallied 49 points in 56 games for San Jose in 2020-21.
The Oilers need a change. They are 18-14-2 (38 points) and have not made the playoffs, having won just two of their last 13 games. Holland, who has never fired a coach in season, has indicated Dave Tippett’s retirement was not in his plans.
“There have been seven coaches in 10 years. You can’t just keep whipping the coaches,” he said. “We are in competition. We just don’t win.”
He also wasn’t keen on moving his first-round pick or top prospects for temporary help via trade. “I wouldn’t do that. I think the answer is in our locker room,” he said.
As a free agent, bringing in Kane wouldn’t cost the Oilers any of those assets, but they would have to open up some cap space.
ESPN’s Emily Kaplan contributed to this report.