If the San Jose Sharks are successful in terminating Evander Kane’s contract— which the NHL seems to believe the Sharks have the grounds to be successful— the Edmonton Oilers should seriously consider Kane as a free agent option. Yes, the argument that Kane might be a locker room cancer is valid, but there are a lot of things to like about the on-ice gifts of this particular player, some of which are so highly valued, a case could be made to overlook the potential off-ice issues that come with signing the forward.
Without getting into the conversation of cost — one of my fellow THW writers will be doing so and we’ll assume Kane would be a cheap addition — this article will focus on some of the other factors GM Ken Holland might want to consider.
Second Chances in a Short Window
There’s always an argument for giving second chances to a player, especially one with incredible talent. Sure, this would be Kane’s fourth or fifth chance, but perhaps even Kane can keep his act together for a few months. Frankly, the Oilers aren’t going to ask Kane to stay above reproach for four seasons. No, they need him to keep out of trouble for four months. One would think even Kane could do so, especially when he has to know so much is riding on it.
Kane has to realize this is it. It’s his last chance and he won’t get another. If he can’t make his next destination one where the team that lands him does anything but sing his praises as an NHL pro and an asset to the team, he’s done.
Talk to Kane. Make it clear the leash is extremely short and that the organization won’t hesitate to bury him in the minors or pay him to simply sit out and watch. Even a few weeks of Kane over a short period of time could produce results. Remember, this is a player who scored 22 goals in a shortened season last year. He’s still got the skills to score in bunches.
Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures
The Oilers aren’t quitting. That said, they could use some help. A team that is struggling mightily, there are real questions about how to fix the Oilers’ woes. If the players can work themselves out of this slump, great. If they can’t, any other move is going to cost this team assets.
Maybe the rumors are true that Ken Holland is kicking tires on someone like Marc-Andre Fleury or Carey Price. First, there’s no guarantee either becomes available. Second, adding them won’t come cheaply; expect a first-round pick to go the other way, for starters.
Meanwhile, Kane costs nothing but money and probably not much money at that. All that has to happen is that Kane sees the Oilers as a good opportunity to win and a chance to rehabilitate his reputation. If the cards fall right, this could be one of the steals of the season, and will the bonus is that it will get done well ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline, where, if it doesn’t work out, the Oilers have time to pivot.
What Do the Oilers Have to Lose?
A couple of months ago, a move like this would be outrageous; maybe it still is. Then again, the Oilers are one playoff miss away from a guaranteed coaching change. The next name on the hot seat is the general manager. After that?…
If Holland goes to Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse and runs the idea by them, the conversation stops when they say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” If all three think they can handle the incoming personality that comes with acquiring Kane, why wouldn’t the GM trust the leadership group? For good measure, get Mike Smith and Duncan Keith to weigh in. They might say adding Kane is worth the risk and tell Holland this room is either strong enough to handle the player or fragile enough now that Kane’s addition won’t make the team more of a mess than it already is.
There was an argument this club had a real camaraderie going and that the wrong mix of players could set the club back. Now, with the losing streak growing longer by the game and so many players out with COVID or injury, that argument holds a lot less water.
At the end of the day, Kane fills a number of obvious needs for this Oilers group and there’s only one good reason not to bring him in. The question becomes, how much does what he can do on the ice outweigh how much he might be of a distraction?
It’s a fair question.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”