The Edmonton Oilers pulled off a late-night signing that should make everyone happy. Evander Kane will be returning to the Oilers for four more seasons at $20.5 million ($5.125 million AAV). The team loves him, and he clearly loves Edmonton. He was exactly what they needed last season and helped the team reach the Western Conference Final and should be able to continue to do so for his entire contract.
Contract Length and Salary Fit in Oilers’ Stanley Cup Window
The Oilers found what you would call “lightning in a bottle” last season and got over the hump to make it to the conference finals for the first time since 2006. Kane was signed mid-season and helped the Oilers dig themselves out of the hole they were in to finish second in the division by scoring 22 goals and 39 points in 43 games while producing almost solely at even strength.
Kane is sticking around for four years, which for a 30-year-old, is the perfect timetable with several talented prospects coming up the ranks down the line. Not only has management not committed to a veteran player for too long, but the Oilers also get him at a time in his career when he is most effective. Edmonton’s Stanley Cup window is wide open, with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl just entering their prime (if you can believe that), so the Kane signing brings back a scorer who has proven he can do just that and keep up with them on the wing.
The salary is better than what anyone could have hoped for, as Kane was rumoured to be expecting $7 million-plus per season, regardless of the term. He is paid roughly the same salary as Zach Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and, like them, brings something unique to the Oilers (from ‘How fast will Edmonton Oilers add to their list of Five Million Dollar men? Real fast,’ Edmonton Journal, July 13, 2022).
How often does a player who was on a 42-goal pace get paid as little as $5 million a season on his very next contract? Almost never. Mark Spector mentioned on Sportsnet’s NHL Central Signing Season that those types of players get paid $8-$9 million, and he’s right. The Oilers now have a physical, fast, and dynamic power forward who can score. He also tied for the lead in playoff goals in just three rounds. Considering the players who are signing for similar or more money than Kane with longer term, what can they do that he can’t? That’s a big reason why this signing is a steal.
Reasons Kane Ended Up Staying
There appears to be more than one reason Kane decided to stay in Edmonton. First, he was treated very well by his teammates and the organization, which he mentioned multiple times. But the Oilers sent over a final offer of $4.5 million for four years before allowing Kane to talk to other teams. Management may have low-balled him and were confident the market wouldn’t offer anything that much better. He reportedly signed for a bit more than the original offer, but it’s still a great price for the organization.
In Kane’s eyes, this may be the last big payday of his career as he will be 34 years old when it expires. But he could also be entering the prime of his career and now has the chance to repeat his success from last season or even build upon it. Where else will he be able to play with such elite talent, and he’s expected to be on McDavid’s wing for the entire contract. Not only do the Oilers get the exact player they need to make more Cup runs, but Kane also gets the opportunity to play playoff hockey and potentially win more than once during his contract. If he does well, he could get similar money short-term when his deal is up, and who better than a four-time Art Ross Trophy-winner to play beside?
Kane’s Positive Impact Good for Everyone
On Sportsnet’s Trade Deadline Day, many good things were said about Kane in regard to his person, his role, and his effect on his teammates. Gene Principe, a reporter for the Oilers, said everybody raved at the kind of person Kane was once he arrived in Edmonton, in a good way. Spector added that Kane cleaned up his act and grew up after having two kids, stating that the Oilers may have signed him at the perfect time in his career after things have settled down off the ice and his game has improved.
Not only does Kane have confidence similar to McDavid and others to be able to produce at a very high level and help the team win, but analyst Pierre McGuire also noted that there are some “really good people” surrounding Kane in Edmonton, including Hyman, which will help keep him level-headed. There were no problems in Edmonton, but it was just half a season. Finally, Kane is now the guy who is expected to provide the team with grit and physicality after Zack Kassian was traded – he is needed even more.
This was a great move for both sides, locking up a proven and very effective scorer to the perfect term while not overpaying as many other teams will in free agency. Kane gets to stay where he was appreciated and had great success, and we are hopeful more is on the horizon.