Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has a long history of chasing big fish. When big names have become available, San Jose often has been connected to them.
So, naturally, with the Buffalo Sabres and Jack Eichel long past the point of reconciliation, might Wilson and the Sharks make a move for the All-Star centerman? All of a sudden, there's increased reason to believe that they could.
The NHL announced Monday that Evander Kane has been suspended for 21 games without pay for a violation of COVID-19 protocols, and is ineligible to play for the Sharks until Nov. 30 at the earliest. Kane won't count against the salary cap while he is suspended, and his forfeited wages will go into the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
As a result of the suspension, Kane will forfeit about $1.68 million of his $7 million salary this season, and the Sharks will get equal cap relief. That isn't nearly enough to put San Jose in a position to acquire a player like Eichel, who will earn $10 million in salary annually through the 2025-26 season. But what if Kane's entire contract came off the Sharks' books? That certainly would provide San Jose with considerable cap space and the ability to take on a significant salary.
It remains to be seen if that's even a possibility, or if the Sharks would even want to go that direction. But for multiple reasons, The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun viewed San Jose as a potential landing spot for Eichel -- who remains sidelined with a neck injury that will require surgery -- and that was before news of Kane's suspension broke.
"Whoever trades for Jack Eichel this year knows they aren’t getting him for at least four months, if not longer depending on his recovery," LeBrun said Friday on TSN's OverDrive radio show. "So it has to be a team who probably doesn’t think, or at least a team that knows that it can live without that kind of player, not to mention the players you’re sending back in that trade."
"So listen," LeBrun added, "I think that, I wonder if at some level about San Jose. Only because, depending on what ends up happening with Evander Kane. If Evander Kane is off the books in some way or another, depending on what the NHL decides, suddenly they got cap room and that Jack Eichel is 24 and the Sharks are trying to transition into a younger team. So I kind of wonder about them."
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Several situations likely would have to resolve themselves before a Sharks trade for Eichel could occur, with Kane's contract status chief among them.
But if San Jose eventually gains the financial ability to acquire Eichel, it will at the very least be a move worth seriously considering.