After the news broke that San Jose Sharks‘ forward, Evander Kane‘s contract would be terminated, a number of suitors should be expected to present themselves. At the top of the list should be the Edmonton Oilers for a number of reasons, and when it comes to Kane making a choice, why wouldn’t playing for the Oilers be appealing for him.
The hands of the Sharks seemed to be tied, as Kane has a modified no-trade clause worked into his deal where he can list three teams to which he can be traded to. That gave the team very few options if they tried to get a trade done for him. Knowing it would be that difficult to move someone who’s had issues, is on contract for three and a half more seasons, and makes close to $6 million a year, contract termination seemed like the only way to go.
Incentive for Kane & Oilers
You have to figure Kane knew that he wouldn’t play another game for the Sharks once he was suspended for the first 21 games of the season and then sent down to the American Hockey League right when he was eligible to return. The contract termination would leave $24 million on the table and give Kane a shot at playing in the NHL again this season, presumably for a playoff contender.
With the level of skill Kane has, regardless of his actions, he couldn’t have been happy to be playing at a level much lower than his skill level. He and everybody else knows how talented he is on the ice, and if he can clean up his act, it would be a better league with him in it. At this point, getting the shock of possibly not playing in the NHL again should make Kane think differently. Even though he has made a lot of money in his career, making a return to the NHL in any capacity to then get a payday on his next deal is incentive enough for someone who hasn’t even turned 30 yet and has a lot of hockey left.
On the other side of things, the Oilers have incentive to get a deal done with Kane. They would be adding a much-needed piece well before the trade deadline, getting an early advantage on other teams that are still waiting to see where they’ll be in a couple of months. That, and something has to give on this losing streak. A loss to the Ottawa Senators will for sure spell change in Edmonton.
Oilers’ Cap Situation for Adding Depth Scoring
Kane is a top-six talent but most likely won’t be paid like one, at least on his first deal to get him back in the NHL. With everything that Kane has been through in the past year alone and how much he’s made in the NHL already, a short-term, one-year deal to finish off this season is probably the best he is going to get from a team. Anything more would be risky for the team having to possibly deal with any further issues past this season.
The Oilers have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on separate lines in which Kane could be deployed on the left wing of either of them. This is incentive for Kane to choose to play in Edmonton for the rest of this season, as he can easily be slotted in the top-six. Who wouldn’t want a chance to play with either of those two players?
With a few bad contracts currently on the books for at least this season, the Oilers don’t have much cap space to work with to add the necessary pieces this season. This includes a goaltender, left defenceman, and either a third-line centre or a scoring winger. Kane fits in as the scoring winger.
He would come a lot cheaper than trading for someone as the team saves on assets going the other way to acquire him and cap space to fit in the Oilers lineup. This will allow them to seamlessly replace a bottom-six forward with Kane, except he can play in the top-six and add a ton of scoring.
This can then allow the Oilers to be working with the same amount of cap space they initially had but be done adding up-front.
Oilers Giving a Very Skilled Player a Chance Can Work
As a fellow THW writer talks about, Ken Holland, the Oilers’ general manager, would be smart to go to the leadership group before making any moves of this magnitude that could shake up the vibe in the locker room.
The new team can leave the past in the past and give the new player a chance. We’ve seen it as recently as this season with the Carolina Hurricanes signing Tony DeAngelo to a one-year, $1 million deal to replace the loss of Dougie Hamilton. They replaced a player that is now making $9 million a season with someone who is doing the same job, even better, than Hamilton is, for $8 million cheaper. This was essential in freeing up cap space for them to make moves and be the team they are this season once again.
Kane has scored 264 goals and recorded 506 points in 769 career games. He is a five-time 25-plus goal scorer and brings a ton of toughness to the lineup, something the Oilers also need. Kane can also be utilized in a power-play role, as he has 47 career power-play goals and 91 power-play points.
So if the Oilers can acquire him, they should. It would cover the need for a forward who can score goals, save on money and assets, add team toughness, and get a much-needed player before the rest of the competition.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with the NHL Stat Corner and trade talks from around the NHL.
You can find more of his work here.