‘You just can’t snap your fingers and move out Evander Kane’: Edmonton Oilers insider

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Published Jul 03, 2024  •  Last updated 5 hours ago  •  7 minute read

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Evander KaneEvander Kane has been dealing with a sports hernia during the regular season, and got hurt late in the Western Conference Final against Dallas, but the veteran forward continues to battle through and will play Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Florida Panthers. Photo by Leila Devlin /Getty Images

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This in from Edmonton Oilers insider Bob Stauffer host of Oilers Now, his speculation on the future of winger Evander Kane. Kane has been rumoured to be heading out of Edmonton on a trade despite the fact Kane now has a No Movement Clause, which means he would have to OK any trade. Edmonton is looking to move out a player or two before the season starts as the Oilers are now $2.5 million over the NHL’s $88 million salary cap.

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“The problem is you just can’t snap your fingers and move out Evander Kane,” Stauffer said, adding a moment later. “I got to tell you I don’t know how this is going to play out with Evander Kane because if they get the Evander Kane from two years ago that is a Top 6 forward. Realistically he has the physical skillset to be a 30-goal scorer in this league. And he has not done it a lot. He can score 20 in his sleep… But now the problem, there are two other guys (new signings) in the mix, Jeff Skinner, who has had six 30-goal season and Viktor Arvidsson, who has scored 30 and has had six 20 goal seasons.”

Kane who will be 33 this season, had 24 goals and 20 assists in 77 games last season, even as he played much of the season with a sports hernia. He had four goals and eight points in 20 playoff games, before debilitating injury made him unable to go in the last games of the Stanley Cup Final against Florida. It’s not yet been reported if his injury will require surgery. TSN’s Ryan Rishaug reported that Kane has not been asked by the Oilers to release the team from his No Movement Clause.

Kane has got two-years left on a deal that pays him $5.125 million per season, with the No Movement Clause in place until Feb. 28, 2025, when he can submit a 16 team approved trade list.

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Stauffer said he had hoped Kane could be a wildcard in the Stanley Cup Final against his old sparring partner Matthew Tkachuk of Florida. “They got nothing from him,” Stauffer said of Kane. “He didn’t get a point  in the three games he played and he went -4. Like they got nothing from Evander.”

Stauffer agreed with the notion that at that point in the playoffs Kane was simply too banged up to play.

Fellow CHED host Reid Wilkin noted it was an odd year for Kane, where he was good early but played hurt most of the year, and took shots at his coaches Jay Woodcroft and Kris Knoblauch for a lack of ice time. “A bit of a strange year, but if he’s got the full no-move, then all he has to say is, ‘No, I’m not going anywhere.’”

But Wilkin asked, “Where does he fit, even if he’s healthy?  Of course, more options is better. If you’ve got a scorer on your third line, there’s nothing wrong with that. Is he going to be happy, though, if he’s lower down the depth chart?”

“I don’t know how easily he would be to trade,” Stauffer added. “I think he knows that there’s a pretty good situation here. But Reid I’m with you, at times if you read between the lines of what he was saying, he didn’t seem overly enamoured as the season went on, because he saw his minutes get cut.”

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Stauffer ended with speculation that if d-man Cody Ceci was traded to create cap space that the Oilers would go with Troy Stecher and Josh Brown alternating as the third right-side d-man behind Evan Bouchard and Philip Broberg.

My take

1. Evander Kane’s playoff performance was one of the grittiest, toughest exhibitions of will I’ve seen from an Oilers player in recent years. In the end, he was so hurting he couldn’t sit on the bench between shifts. But without Kane’s ferocious hitting and intimidating presence does Edmonton so easily dispatch Los Angeles in five games? Kane obliterated Drew Doughty and other Kings with nasty hits. And without Kane bashing away on Quinn Hughes and standing up to the Apex Predator of the Canucks, Nikita Zadorov, do the Oilers even get by Vancouver? I have my doubts.

2. After the playoffs were over numerous Oilers fans complained that Florida’s physical play had given that team an edge. They wanted to see the Oilers get more physical and nasty. Does moving out Evander Kane help in that regard? You’re really going to blame him for not bringing it against Florida when he was injured? My own sense is that Kane is a unique NHL player, a big, fast winger who has some offensive game who also is one of the two or three most intimidating players in the league. If you move out that kind of player, you can spend years looking for another one just like him.

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3. This isn’t to say Kane doesn’t have warts, the main one being he’s going to be 33 this year and he’s been injured and had his effectiveness limited two years running. It’s no surprise to see power forwards completely fall off a cliff at Kane’s age. I thought that might well be happening in the first five or six games this regular season when Kane started off as slow as Milan Lucic in his Edmonton days. But Kane rebounded with a solid season and a great first two rounds of the playoffs.

4. Another wart? Kane can be an uninspired defensive player. He doesn’t always come back hard enough. He can throw away the puck too much in the offensive zone. He can get lost in d-zone coverage. He’s definitely near the bottom, not the top, when it comes to defensive play for Oilers wingers.

At the same time, when the playoffs heat up, he’s able to raise his defensive game somewhat and at least provide average defending. Overall in the playoffs, when it came to create Grade A shots and limiting mistakes on Grade A shots against, Kane was the second best Oilers winger after Zach Hyman and did considerably better than players like special teams assassin Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who got pushed out of rugged 5-on-5 play early on, and Corey Perry, who too often struggled with the speed of the games.

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Kane

5. Some folks fantasize about Kane going on Long Term Injured Reserve all season, then coming back to help Edmonton in the playoffs. It’s a sweet dream indeed. I get it. But if Kane was well enough to play in Games 6 and 7 of the Final, and he appeared to be itching to get back in to play, I doubt his injury is so bad it will keep him out an entire season. Best to put that plan in the dust bin of clever schemes there are almost certainly not going to occur.

6. As for trading Kane, that’s his call. Again, I’d prefer the Oilers not do that and find a better way to get cap space, perhaps by trading Ceci, who played solid hockey in the playoffs when not paired with the slumping Darnell Nurse. I don’t want see Ceci gone, but the solid defence he brings is more easy to find from other players than the ferocious, intimidating and skilled play that Kane delivers when he’s at his best.

Kane

7. Edmonton has just two big, physical wingers who like to hit and are willing to do so, Kane and Dylan Holloway. Kane was 33rd in the NHL for hits per 60 with 12.5 and Holloway ranked 34th with 12.4 per 60. Next best on the Oilers was little Derek Ryan at 5.1 per 60, though the feisty Arvidsson will help so long as he stays healthy. My point is I don’t think Edmonton can afford to lose one of its big hitting forwards, and that’s an even bigger issue now that big, tough d-man Vincent Desharnais has left the team for Vancouver.

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Bottom lines: Kane can still help the Oilers win a Stanley Cup. He came close to doing so this May and June. In my books, he’s a keeper.

At the Cult of Hockey

STAPLES: Secret weapon helps Edmonton Oilers convince top players to sign and stay here

STAPLES: ‘Jeff Jackson is on absolute fire’: Edmonton Oilers fans thrilled with July 1 signings

STAPLES: ‘Everyone wants to be there’: Hockey world picks Edmonton Oilers as a ‘winner’ of NHL free agency

STAPLES: Cody Ceci or Ryan McLeod on way out for Edmonton Oilers? NHL insider digs into Oil’s free agent haul

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