Labanc lifts Sharks past Canucks


Labanc lifts Sharks past Canucks


SAN JOSE -- Kevin Labanc scored 1:53 into overtime and the San Jose Sharks beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-4 on Thursday night.

Labanc also had three assists as the Sharks improved to 4-1-2 over their last seven games. Joe Thornton scored twice for San Jose and added an assist as he moved past Doug Gilmour for 18th place on the NHL list with 1,416 career points.

Labanc's fourth goal of the season came off an assist from Tomas Hertl.

The Canucks lost for the sixth time in seven games, with their lone win during that span against San Jose on Dec. 15.

Vancouver trailed 4-3 before Daniel Sedin scored at 2:09 of the third period to tie it. The Canucks rallied from a 3-1 deficit.

Jake Virtanen scored to bring Vancouver within a goal at 8:49 of the second, and Brock Boeser tied the game at 16:02.

Boeser's goal was his 19th of the season and eighth in 11 games.

Hertl scored for San Jose on a 5-on-3 power play with 1:04 left in the second to give the Sharks a 4-3 lead.

San Jose trailed 1-0 before Thornton tied Gilmour with a goal at 11:52 of the first period. The Sharks took a 2-1 lead at 5:20 of the second when Timo Meier scored his fifth goal.

Brendan Gaunce scored the game's first goal at 1:58 of the first period on a play Jake Virtanen started with a backhand pass to trailer Erik Gudbranson. He fired a shot that Gaunce redirected for his first goal of the season.

Late in the first period, defenseman Michael De Zotto saved a goal when he cleared a puck that got past goalie Jacob Markstrom inches from the net.

NOTES: Canucks D Ben Hutton was a healthy scratch. RW Nikolay Goldobin, a former Shark, also was scratched. . Sharks D Paul Martin had a setback in his recovery from ankle surgery. The injury isn't a recurrence of the same injury. Martin has been on injured reserve since Oct. 12. There is no timetable for his return. . C Logan Couture, out with a concussion he suffered against the Canucks last week, missed his second game. ... The Sharks recalled forwards Marcus Sorenson and Danny O'Regan from the AHL.


Canucks: Host the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.

Sharks: Host the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.

With Kane's deal done, can the Sharks add Tavares AND re-sign their free agents?

With Kane's deal done, can the Sharks add Tavares AND re-sign their free agents?

The Sharks’ offseason began in earnest on Thursday. Evander Kane dotted the ‘I’s’ and crossed the ‘T’s’ on a seven-year contract extension, reportedly worth $49 million, and San Jose can now turn its attention to the remainder of a pivotal offseason.

With the NHL’s salary cap set to rise to a range between $78 million and $82 million, Kane’s re-signing leaves the Sharks, with between $10.5 million and $14.5 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly. They likely will have more.

CapFriendly lists rookie forwards Dylan Gambrell and Max Letunov on San Jose’s NHL roster, but assuming the pair starts the season with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda, the Sharks will have cap space ranging from about $12.3 million to $16.3 million. Waiving Tim Heed would clear $650,000 more, plus teams can exceed the salary cap by 10 percent during the summer, giving the Sharks at least an additional $7.8 million to spend as well.

The higher the cap rises, the more flexibility San Jose will have to make a splash this summer. It’s needed, as Dylan DeMelo, Tomas Hertl, and Chris Tierney will become restricted free agents on July 1, Joe Thornton is set to become an unrestricted free agent (UFA), and New York Islanders center John Tavares headlining this summer’s UFA class if he reaches free agency.

Kane’s return does not necessarily rule out the Sharks re-signing their restricted free-agent trio and bringing Tavares into the fold, but San Jose would have to clear some cap space. According to HockeyGraphs’ Matt Cane’s projection model, which was within about $100,000 of the cap hit of Kane’s contract, it would cost about $18.6 million to sign all four players assuming the salary cap rises to $80 million next season.

Re-signing the trio and bringing back Thornton, who Cane’s model projects will sign a one-year deal for about $5.4 million, is well within the Sharks’ price range, and San Jose likely wouldn’t need to move a contract. Signing both centers initialed ‘J.T.’ would necessitate some creativity, however.

If Tavares, Thornton, DeMelo, Hertl, and Tierney signed for their projected contract values, San Jose would exceed the allowed offseason overage for an $80 million salary cap by nearly $1.1 million. In order to become fully cap compliant by the start of the season, they’d have to clear about an additional $8 million on top of that.

It’s worth remembering that these are just contract projections, and Thornton also told reporters earlier this month that he’d be willing to take a paycut if it helped San Jose attract free agents. Still, Cane’s model is instructive, as it shows Sharks would likely have to clear a contract in order to sign Tavares, and possibly multiple in order to also re-sign Thornton.

Trading Paul Martin and retaining half his salary or buying him out would clear $2.425 million and $2.833 million. The latter may be likelier as San Jose was unable to find a trade partner during the season, but a buyout would also leave just over $1.4 million on the books in the 2019-20 season. Mikkel Boedker’s contract is fairly movable, as his cap hit ($4 million) over the next two seasons exceeds his actual salary ($3 million).

Buying out Martin and trading Boedker could be enough to allow the Sharks to sign Tavares and re-sign Thornton at a discount, but doing both will require some maneuvering from San Jose general manager Doug Wilson. He will also have to consider his team’s flexibility moving forward.

Kane, Brent Burns, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are now signed for a combined $22 million headed into their 30s. The defensemen will be 40 and 39 when their respective contracts expire in 2025 and 2026. Kane will be 33, but has dealt with a variety of injuries and has never played a full, 82-game season. If Logan Couture signs a long-term extension this summer, he will be 30 when his contract begins.

Plus, Joonas Donskoi, Hertl, and Tierney all could be eligible for unrestricted free agency as soon as their next contracts, while Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier are about to enter the final season of their respective entry-level deals. Adding Tavares or another free agent to the mix on a long-term deal would leave the Sharks with a lot of money in a core that’s only getting older, but drafting well and supplementing that core with cheap, young players will remain paramount.

Kane’s extension certainly doesn’t prevent the Sharks from re-signing DeMelo, Hertl, and Tierney. This doesn’t eliminate them from the race to land Tavares, nor does it rule out Thornton’s return. Wilson will need to wheel and deal to manage all three, but Kane’s re-signing is an indication that San Jose’s offseason is just getting started.

Sharks re-sign Evander Kane to seven-year deal

Sharks re-sign Evander Kane to seven-year deal

The Sharks officially re-signed pending free agent Evander Kane to a seven-year contract extension on Thursday, the team announced.

"At only 26 years old, Evander has established himself as one of hockey's true power forwards and an impact player," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. "We think his abilities mesh perfectly with our group of skilled, young players and veteran leaders. It's extremely heartening to have Evander join a trend of elite players who have chosen to remain in San Jose. It speaks volumes as to how players view this organization and further illustrates the continued commitment to our fans by our owner Hasso Plattner." 

The deal reportedly carries a cap hit of $7 million annually, according to The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun and confirmed by CapFriendly, making Kane San Jose's highest-paid player. He's now the seventh player on the roster with some kind of no-trade clause in his contract, according to CapFriendly, and Kane's modified no-trade clause allows him to submit a list of three teams he can be traded to. 

Kane made an immediate impact upon his arrival in San Jose. He scored 14 points (nine points, five assists) in 17 regular season games with the Sharks, and scored an additional five (four goals, one assist) in nine playoff games during his first postseason appearance. Between Buffalo and San Jose, he scored 54 points (29 goals, 25 assists) in 78 regular season games, the second-highest and highest marks of his career, respectively.

He hit the 20-goal mark for the third consecutive season, which was a career-first, and his 53 five-on-five goals over the last three years are tied-for-13th among forwards, according to Corsica Hockey. Kane also generated qualtiy chances during that span, and his five-on-five expected goals rate (0.87 per hour) ranks 28th among all skaters that played at least 500 minutes in the last three seasons. 

The 26-year-old told The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz that he played through a separated shoulder and MCL injury in the playoffs. Before this year, Kane had never played more than 75 games in a season, and had reached the 70-game threshold four times in the first eight years of his career.

The Sharks acquired Kane at the trade deadline, trading forward Danny O’Regan, a conditional first-round pick in 2019, and a conditional mid-round pick in 2019 or 2020 to the Sabres. The former is now a first-round pick because Kane re-signed, while San Jose general manager Doug Wilson will have to decide next year if he wants to give up a fourth rounder in 2019 or a third rounder in 2020.

At the trade deadline, the Sharks were Kane’s only “legitimate” suitor, according to Sabres general manager Jason Botterill. That was, perhaps in part, because of Kane’s past.

He was accused of sexual assault in 2015, but ultimately did not face charges. Charges, including harassment, stemming from a separate incident in 2016 with two women and a bouncer at a Buffalo bar were eventually dismissed.

Additionally, Kane reportedly clashed with teammates in his previous stops in Winnipeg and in Buffalo. But, he “fit in well” in San Jose, Logan Couture told reporters (via AP) on May 8.

“Getting to know him over these last few months he’s a great teammate,” Couture said at the time. “He cares and he wants to win. He was fun to play with.”

Kane is now the third player Wilson has signed to contract lasting at least seven years during the last 18 months. Wilson locked up Brent Burns to an eight-year, $64 million extension in Nov. 2016, and Vlasic to an eight-year, $56 million extension last July. Prior to that, Milan Michalek’s 2007 contract extension was the only deal for six years or longer.

“That’s just the landscape of what’s taken place in this league in the last two [or] three years and how contracts are structured for high-end players.” Wilson told reporters when Vlasic re-signed last summer. “Whether you like it or not, that’s just the reality of it. [In order] to keep Brent Burns, or Marc-Edouard have to accept that and do what’s necessary in that framework.”

Although he was acquired at the deadline, Kane was eligible to sign an extension at the maximum length of eight years like Burns and Vlasic, as he was added to San Jose's reserve list in time, according to CapFriendly. Kane, Burns, Vlasic, and goaltender Martin Jones are the only San Jose players signed beyond 2020, and Vlasic's the only player signed past 2025. 

Couture and captain Joe Pavelski are among the players eligible to sign contract extensions as soon as July 1. Joe Thornton, Eric Fehr, Jannik Hansen, and Joel Ward are the team’s remaining unrestricted free agents this summer. Dylan DeMelo, Tomas Hertl, and Chris Tierney are likely due raises as the only pending restricted free agents in the organization.