Anytime a player has significant term left on a contract, it’s difficult for a team to offer to retain salary to facilitate a trade. They’re not able to pick and choose how much to retain and in what year; it’s a uniform amount of retention for the remainder of the deal. Accordingly, it’s not very often that a player signed for several more seasons is moved with the trading team holding back some money.
One team that is open to being an exception to that appears to be San Jose. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the Sharks are willing to retain on Evander Kane’s contract in order to try to help trade talks move along. Kane has three years remaining on his deal with a $7M AAV, a high price tag for many teams to try to add with so many being tight to the salary cap already.
Kane has yet to play this season after receiving a 21-game suspension from the NHL for using a fake proof of vaccination while the league's investigation into allegations made over the offseason could not be substantiated. That suspension is nearing a conclusion and he has started to skate with GM Doug Wilson recently acknowledging that they haven’t decided what to do with him once he’s cleared to return.
Kane is actually coming off an impressive 2020-21 season that saw him lead San Jose in scoring with 22 goals and 27 assists in 56 games, good enough for the highest point-per-game average of his career. Despite that, it’s far from a guarantee that he’ll be welcomed back.
The Sharks can retain up to 50% or $3.5M of Kane’s cap hit but even with that, it seems unlikely that a suitable trade option will materialize right away. At a minimum, teams will want to see Kane in action to see how he performs and how things go off the ice before making any sort of commitment to acquire him. To that end, Friedman speculates that Kane could see some time in the minors, which would allow the Sharks some more time to determine their next steps and any potentially interested teams to do some evaluating.
In the meantime, San Jose’s 22nd game of the season is on Tuesday, so while they have a few more days to figure out what their short-term plans are for Kane, they’ll need to make a decision soon.