Oilers Need To Make Multiple Moves To Activate Evander Kane

It appears as though Evander Kane will be back in the lineup for the Edmonton Oilers as the team takes on the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday. Out with an injury since suffering a nasty cut from a skate, Kane’s return comes earlier than expected, which is great news for the team but also means a number of moves need to be made for the Oilers to be salary cap compliant.

If Kane is good to go, — he is waiting for the final green light from his doctor — GM Ken Holland will have to make a series of transactions and that could shuffle players down the lineup, with one or two players who deserve to be in actually coming out. The Oilers must Kane’s $5.125 million cap hit off LTIR. More specifically, the team needs to clear $3,487,500 — the difference between Kane’s cap hit and what they currently have available.

Evander Kane Deepens the Oilers Forward Corps

Media members like Jason Gregor and Bob Stauffer were tweeting out the lineup as the Oilers took the ice for practice on Monday. From the looks of things, Connor McDavid was the center for Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman, while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins pivoted Klim Kostin and Mattias Janmark on the second line. That line has been on fire of late offensively, so it makes sense they would get the elevated role.

Evander Kane Edmonton Oilers
Evander Kane, Edmonton Oilers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

If Kane plays, it appears he will come in on the third line, centered by Ryan McLeod and Warren Foegele, who will be on the other wing. The fourth line is fast and skilled with Derek Ryan centering Dylan Holloway and Jesse Puljujarvi.

Related: Oilers Trade Deadline Plans Could Change if Desharnais Succeeds

This is a deep four lines that have size, speed, and skill on every line. The Oilers were already dangerous, but this group looks like a championship-contending forward group. One name that is missing is Kailer Yamamoto, who is out again with an injury and that has to be a bit concerning for Edmonton.

Who Comes Out for the Oilers?

While the lineup at Monday’s practice doesn’t mean this is the lineup for Tuesday’s game, most of the changes to the roster in terms of demotions will come from the blue line. The Oilers had been running an 11-7 setup over the past three games and it seems unlikely they continue to do so with Kane back in.

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Gregor writes, to activate Kane, the Oilers need to waive one of Puljujarvi or Foegele, plus Devin Shore, and send down one of Markus Nemelainen or Vincent Desharnais. Yamamoto and/or Ryan Murray are likely to be placed on LTIR. If they don’t want to move a player making $1.125 million or more, the alternative option is to run with a 20-man roster and send Shore, two defensemen, and Dylan Holloway down. That’s risky.

There was chatter Janmark could be an option to come out, but the way he’s meshed with Nugent-Hopkins and Kostin, it doesn’t make sense to split that lineup. So too, Desharnais might be the defenseman to keep. He’s been tremendous since being called up.

Is There a Bold Move Coming for the Oilers?

The first three options to come out of the lineup don’t require much thought. Edmonton can easily send down Devin Shore ($850K) and one of Desharnais or Niemelainen down ($763K) and put Murray on LTIR. If Yamamoto’s injury is serious, that changes things too.

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From there, the Oilers will have to demote one player they’d prefer not to lose. The alternative is to trade one. That could mean revisiting the trade market on a player like Puljujarvi to see if another team is ready to take on his full salary and give him a fresh place to try and up his production. Or, maybe the Oilers see if they can move Foegele and his $2.75 million contract. If they can add a depth defenseman in the process, it’s a win/win.

Needless to say, having Kane back in the lineup will be a huge boost for the team. At the same time, the Oilers are so tight to the salary cap, nothing good comes without some bad. There are players who have done their part over the course of the recent three-game road-winning streak. One or more of them likely won’t be on the ice when the Oilers play their next game and try to keep the wins going.