The Evander Kane deal in Edmonton has the potential to pay huge dividends for its forward depth.
Evander Kane Deal Brings More Star Power to Edmonton via a True Power Forward
Evander Kane signing in Edmonton for the Oilers adds a level of depth not seen in the Connor McDavid era. His high-end goal-scoring ability and toughness around the net make him versatile throughout the lineup. But most importantly, it gives either McDavid or Leon Draisaitl their first 30 goal-scoring winger in their careers.
Now we all know what sort of baggage Kane brings with him. His off-ice behaviour is nothing to take lightly, nor should we brush it aside. A person needs to be held accountable for such inexcusable conduct. And as of right now, it remains to be seen whether Kane will even get to finish out this season with Edmonton. Courts still have to make decisions on the off-ice allegations he faces for sexual abuse.
Kane’s growing pains as a professional; maturing and navigating his way through the NHL, have taken longer than most. And now, he’s been given one last opportunity to pull himself up with another chance with a new club.
And that chance starts in Edmonton.
A New Start
The NHL concluded an investigation into forward Evander Kane and the circumstances under which he travelled across the U.S.-Canada border during the holiday period, clearing the way for Kane to sign with an NHL team.
Enter Edmonton Oilers general manager, Ken Holland.
The Edmonton Oilers, as a franchise, are no strangers to signing embattled players and giving them second chances. Players like Grant Fuhr, Zack Kassian, and Craig MacTavish are just a few players the Oilers have helped in their careers.
All the players listed above had their own unique situations, and in no way reflect the same type of situation we see with Kane. But we do see the pattern of this franchise reaching out and offering opportunities to play in the NHL.
Evander Kane now sees himself presented with the same opportunity.
Edmonton Oilers Look To Right the Ship
The Edmonton Oilers have had a tale of two seasons. They opened the 2021-22 season with a 16-5 record over the first two months and led in almost every offensive statistical category. Then came the winter doldrums. Edmonton stumbled in December and January, going through a nasty stretch that saw them win only twice in their next 14 games and finishing dead last in most offensive and defensive statistical categories during that time.
That stretch of losing was eye-opening. It showed some glaring weaknesses in Edmonton’s roster, especially in their lack of depth.
Now, this wasn’t much of a revelation to most Oilers fans. Edmonton’s lack of depth has been the subject of scrutiny for years and their reliance on their two offensive heavyweights, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl has been over-exposed.
But mired by draft whiffs, trade blunders, and signing mishaps that have pressed Ken Holland right up against the cap, the Oilers general manager had his hands tied with trying to find a quick fix.
So when the opportunity to sign a proven scorer at a cap-friendly deal of 2.1 million presented itself, Holland had to roll the dice.
A True Power Forward with Goal Scoring Ability
Evander Kane’s resume as a power forward is well established. The former fourth overall pick in the 2009 NHL Draft has two 30 goal seasons and has been on pace for 30 goals in the last two shortened NHL seasons.
“I’m excited today to introduce Evander,’ Oilers GM Ken Holland said. I think he’s going to have a big impact on our hockey team. He’s a top-six forward. Big, strong, can skate. He’s going to give us a lot of different dimensions. Can fight, can score.”
The biggest thing Evander brings is an immediate upgrade to Connor McDavid’s wing. For the first time in his career, McDavid is going to play with a winger, not named Draisaitl, who has scored at least 30 goals in a season.
Kind of remarkable when you think about it. It shouldn’t have taken seven seasons for this to happen.
Evander Kane Deal Provides a Whole New Dimension to Edmonton’s Top Six
So by adding Kane to the first line, left-wing spot, Edmonton now has a much more balanced approach to their top-nine forward groups.
Now yes, we need to see if the chemistry is there between McDavid and Kane, but Connor has shown throughout his career he can flourish with power forwards on his wing. Connor has put up 100 point campaigns with linemates of less power forward pedigree in Milan Lucic, Pat Maroon, and the aforementioned Zack Kassian.
Kane is on a whole other level than those three.
And he’s already scored a goal in his Oilers debut, so things are already looking good.
If Kane continues to have success on the first line, the trickle-down effect for Edmonton’s roster will be massive.
Depth has been a frustrating issue with this team. A head-scratcher that seemed to have no easy solution. But that’s why this Evander Kane deal is not just a good deal, it is a great deal.
This one fix, if it works, solves a depth issue plaguing Edmonton for years.
A Balanced Top Nine Group
With Kane on the top line producing how he should, head coach Dave Tippett can now keep Draisaitl commanding the second line and have a lethal one-two punch that will be an opposing coach’s line-matching nightmare.
And now that they don’t have to overload their top line, Edmonton can now put together a skilled and strong two-way third line. Edmonton hasn’t had the luxury of a producing “grind line” since their run to the cup back in 2005. But now they have a third line that consists of Zach Hyman, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Zack Kassian, two 20+ goal scorers and a 15 goal scorer, respectively.
There was no way Ken Holland was going to get to the NHL trade deadline and be able to find one single player who could have an outright impact through the Oilers’ first three lines, the way Kane will. He had almost no money to spend and too many bad contracts to move.
The Oilers were going to have to, more than likely, find the answer within their organization. And that wasn’t happening.
So the Evander Kane deal was a godsend.
A Big Step in the Right Direction
Edmonton has been labelled by other coaches around the league as an easy team to play against. They just didn’t have the balanced attack, toughness, and strong two-way game that could stifle opponents.
But the addition of Evander Kane gives them all of that, whether directly or indirectly.
Edmonton reaches the halfway point of their season with a 22-16-2 record. Good enough for 10th in the Western Conference and two points out of the final Wild Card position.
There is plenty of season left to right the ship for Edmonton and the addition of Evander Kane is a huge step in doing so. Ken Holland may not have many good deals on his resume since coming to Edmonton, but this signing here has all the makings to be a great one.
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