Well, here we go. Evander Kane is a free agent. The talented and troubled winger has been in a firestorm of controversy over the past several months, including: a messy public divorce and custody battle, bankruptcy proceedings due to a gambling addiction that have him millions in debt, allegations for betting on his own games, a 21-game suspension for using a fake vaccine card and the final straw- violating the AHL COVID protocols that resulted in the termination of his contract with the San Jose Sharks. And this is just in the past twelve months. Don’t get me started on additional details from the past. Kane’s talent is undeniable, he’s a consistent 20-goal, 50-point player that can fight, play physical and contribute in many of the gritty areas. But he’s the definition of a locker room cancer. The Sharks refused to reinstate him after the conclusion of his suspension, and let him languish in the minors for a month. While with the San Jose Barracuda (why are the Sharks and their AHL team in the same city? it makes sense, but just seems odd), Kane tested positive for COVID-19 and was ordered to isolate. Instead, he left the country to visit relatives in Canada and returned a week after players were supposed to report back to their AHL teams. This was the last straw, as the Sharks exercised the “conduct detrimental to the team” clause in every standard contract to terminate his deal. Kane is currently in a court fight to see if the Sharks will be forced to pay him the $22 million that he was still supposed to make, but Kane is free to sign with another team in the meantime.
Due to his talent, and the NHL’s lack of care for off-ice issues, as long as a guy can play (except when it could hurt the old boys club *cough* Kyle Beach *cough*), General Managers will generally sign a guy. Bill Zito is very methodical in his approach. He rarely ever shows his cards, and his big moves come with little warning (like Kodak probably) sometimes in the middle of the night. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the Panthers are a team with interest in Kane, but their primary motivation Friedman explains is literally just to stop Tampa from getting another player. Look, I’d rather have Kane here than Tampa, but I’d much rather he play for any of the other 30 teams before any of the Florida teams. It seems counterproductive to make what could be a disastrous move just to prevent Tampa from making it. I believe the Lightning locker room is strong enough to contain Kane. Boisterous personalities like Nikita Kucherov won’t let Kane’s schtick fly. Florida has personalities like that with Patric Hornqvist, but Hornqvist isn’t as respected as Kucherov is.
Basically introducing Kane into the Panthers locker room is like introducing the burmese python into the Florida Everglades. The latter has been a disaster, and the former will follow suit. Kane will screw the locker room chemistry harder than Kodak Black did to that girl last night. If we sign Kane to prevent Tampa from getting him, and immediately flip him to Edmonton, who is completely enamored with him, I would do it. We’d get assets for literally nothing, as he would be traded immediately upon signing. The Panthers have more cap flexibility than Edmonton, so signing Kane would be easier for Florida, forcing Edmonton to pay a price for his services, rather than just plain cash. TLDR- Only way I want Kane here is if it’s on a connecting flight to Edmonton with assets coming back.
However, I doubt many of the reports of Kane to the Panthers are true. The Panthers will do their diligence just like every other team, but I doubt Bill Zito will want to introduce a radioactive element into the culture he’s formed. Sure Zito has taken guys that have had bad reputations and turned them into gems, but none of those guys had off the ice issues, and rather their bad reps came from their unorthodox playing styles, which alienated coaches and GMs. Kane’s bad rep is well deserved. He has played for three teams, and his exit from each city, hasn’t just seen bridges burned. The bridges have been firebombed. Maintaining a team’s balance is a delicate art. Don’t throw a wrench in it.