The Sharks reportedly could move to void Evander Kane's contract in June.
A bankruptcy judge granted Kane and the team's request to move this week's deadline for a motion to reject his contract by 90 days to June 7, The Athletic's Daniel Kaplan and Kevin Kurz reported Wednesday.
The Sharks signed Kane to a seven-year, $49 million in 2018, ensuring the winger would forego unrestricted free agency. A creditor source told The Athletic it's "unclear" why Kane would want to void the contract, but Kaplan and Kurz wrote that "given the emerging vitriol between the parties, Kane may want to deprive creditors of their main source of financial redress."
Kane reportedly filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in January, listing nearly $27 million in debt to various creditors. According to Wednesday's report, several of those creditors recently filed a motion to convert Kane's Chapter 7 to Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which would enable Kane's creditors -- including Zions Bancorp, whom Kane reportedly owes $4.25 million -- to have the $29 million lenders say is remaining on Kane's contract available to them. A hearing on the creditors' request will be held this month, according to The Athletic.
In a motion from Kane and the Sharks, neither he nor the team have ruled out rejecting the contract. Kaplan and Kurz reported the parties "would have greater motivation" to do so if Kane's bankruptcy is converted to Chapter 11.
Neither Kane nor the Sharks' representation responded to requests from The Athletic, but a San Jose spokesperson told the outlet Wednesday night that the team is "100 percent committed to honoring Evander Kane’s contract, and [has] no intention of having it terminated.”
Kane is second on San Jose this season in goals (nine) and points (20), while tying for the team lead in assists (11). The 29-year-old has, along with Logan Couture and Kevin Labanc, been part of the Sharks' best line this season, which also is one of the more effective trios in the league. Only nine forward lines that have played at least 100 minutes together have scored more goals per hour than Couture, Kane and Labanc (3.71, per Evolving-Hockey) and only 14 have generated a higher rate of expected goals (2.91 per hour, according to Evolving-Hockey).
The Sharks entered Wednesday in last place in the West Division, seven points back of a playoff spot, despite Kane's strong performances this season. Voiding his contract would free up $7 million in salary-cap space, which San Jose will have a hard time clearing in the coming seasons.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday said the league is operating under the assumption the $81.5 million salary cap will remain flat for the next four years. Outside of Kane, five Sharks are signed for at least $5.75 million annually through 2024. That doesn't include 24-year-old winger Timo Meier, whose $6 million per year contract expires after the 2022-23 season.
If Kane's contract is voided, that could also affect the Sharks' plans in this summer's Seattle Kraken expansion draft. San Jose can either protect eight skaters -- regardless of position -- and a goalie, or seven forwards, three defensemen and a goaltender. San Jose must expose two forwards who are under contract next season and have played at least 70 games in the last two seasons or 40 games this season. Kane is one of five Sharks forwards who currently fit the league's exposure requirements, alongside Meier, Kevin Labanc, Tomas Hertl and Couture.