If Patrick Kane gets traded to the New York Rangers — something that looks to be inevitable based on the moves made by both the Rangers and the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday — the Edmonton Oilers should consider themselves lucky that Kane will be officially off of the trade market. This is not to say that Kane wouldn’t be a wonderful addition to an already offensively-gifted Oilers team, but after scoring 29 goals in their six previous games, the proof is in the pudding that the Oilers don’t need more scoring.
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What the Oilers need is help on defense (they’ve allowed 32 in their previous seven) and they aren’t going to get it by adding another dynamic offensive weapon.
Kane Would Be a Luxury, Not a Need for Edmonton
If the Oilers could roll out any combination of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Evander Kane, Zach Hyman, and Patrick Kane, they’d be deadly. Their record-best power play would be backed up by a second unit that might be almost as good, their top-six right-wing spots would be solidified and they’d have a difference-maker offensively that would be worth the asking price as an NHL trade deadline rental. All that said, the Oilers need to spend the limited assets they have in other areas.
Some insiders have said this week that Kane would be a nice backup plan if the Oilers strike out on names like Erik Karlsson or Vladislav Gavrikov. For example, Jason Gregor of TSN asked that if the Oilers can’t add the defenseman they need, why not go out and get one of the best forwards available? The answer is they don’t need it. And, just because it would be a nice option, doesn’t make it the right option. Essentially, the Oilers can’t afford to strike out when it comes to looking for blue-line help. If it isn’t Karlsson or Gavrikov, find the next best option and go down the line until you land on an upgrade.
Oilers Need Help on Defense
What Edmonton needs is help to shut other teams down. Scoring is not the Oilers’ problem. It’s the first goal of the game on the first shot of the game that they regularly give up that seems to be the issue. It’s the blown leads for a team that will need to put their opponent away that haunt this team. It’s the wasted effort of coming back, only to squander that work and let the team score again to put a contest out of reach. That’s what plagues this club, one that is playing solid hockey but should have at least four or five more points in their last 10 games than they’ve actually earned.
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Darnell Nurse is playing too many minutes. Evan Bouchard often looks lost. Cody Ceci is coughing up the puck. The rookies are doing their best, but at the end of the day, they’re rookies. The Oilers need a calming presence that can shut down the cycles, take away scoring chances, and clear the puck out of the zone without taking penalties.
The Temptation of Kane Being Available Will Be Gone
As long as Kane remained undecided on his future, the Oilers were in the mix on this player. If he ends up going to the Rangers, that takes the Oilers out of the running and GM Ken Holland can shift his focus onto areas that, frankly, should be where his attention goes. The idea of Kane was a nice one, but removing that distraction from Holland’s peripheral vision is probably the best thing for everyone.
It’s not clear if Holland was holding assets in the event Kane went to Chicago and said, ‘Try to make it work with the Oilers.’ If that was happening, it’s best for all parties that everyone moves on, and for the Oilers, it’s time they get down to landing that blue line help they so desperately need.
If the Rangers and the Oilers end up meeting in the Stanley Cup Final, perhaps Kane bites Edmonton when it matters most. The odds of that are slim. Holland should be focused on the real issues with the team and the obvious holes on the roster.