SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Sharks signed pending free agent forward Evander Kane to a seven-year contract Thursday that keeps the high-scoring winger off the open market and part of the Sharks long-term future.
Kane, who turns 27 in August, was acquired from Buffalo at the trade deadline in February and became a key part of San Jose’s team down the stretch and in the playoffs.
“At only 26 years old, Evander has established himself as one of hockey’s true power forwards and an impact player,” general manager Doug Wilson said. “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.”
Under the terms of that trade, the Sabres will get a first-round pick in 2019 instead of a second-rounder because Kane signed with San Jose. The selection is lottery-protected, so it could be moved to 2020. The Sabres also got forward Danny O’Regan and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2019 in the deal.
Kane’s status was one of the biggest questions heading into this offseason for the Sharks, who were knocked out of the playoffs in six games in the second round against eventual Western Conference champion Vegas.
Star Joe Thornton is the other prominent potential free agent on the team but has said he’s willing to come back on a reduced one-year deal.
Kane had issues off the ice and with teammates at times during his stints with Winnipeg and Buffalo, but melded well with a veteran Sharks team and got the opportunity to go to the postseason for the first time in his career.
His off-ice issues included run-ins with the police.
In March 2016, prosecutors announced after a three-month investigation that Kane would not face a sexual assault charge. In August 2016, Kane pleaded not guilty to charges he allegedly grabbed three women by the hair and neck during an altercation in a Buffalo bar. The charges were later dropped as part of a plea deal, if he stayed out of trouble for six months.
Kane made an immediate impact in San Jose, stepping right onto the top line with captain Joe Pavelski and helping ease the loss of Thornton, who went down with a season-ending knee injury in January. Kane used his speed and physical play to deliver nine goals and five assists in 17 games and spark an eight-game winning streak that sent San Jose to the playoffs.
Kane shined in the first round with three goals and an assist during a sweep against Anaheim. But he struggled a bit against the Golden Knights, slowed by injuries to his knee and shoulder that lingered from the end of the regular season.
He had one goal and a minus-5 rating in five games against Vegas. He missed Game 2 of that series when he was suspended for cross-checking Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
Kane finished last season with 29 goals and 25 assists, his second-most productive season to his 30-goal, 27-assist campaign for the Jets in 2011-12. Kane has 186 goals and 168 assists in 574 career games since entering the NHL as the fourth overall pick by Atlanta in 2009.
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