The Edmonton Oilers had Evander Kane signed before the clock struck midnight Tuesday and then got the ink done on goaltender Jack Campbell and announced within minutes of the UFA season opening at 10 a.m. this morning. Just like that, GM Ken Holland had addressed the two most pressing matters of his off-season.
While speculation in recent days was the Oilers and Campbell were closing in on a deal, I didn’t see a new contract with Kane being possible when I hit the rack last night. You? With the numbers Kane put up with the Oilers, I was certain he was going to want too much money and too much term to be a viable option here — even with cap space opening up in recent days.
The way I read the situation, Kane wanted a term of at least five years and an AAV of at least $6 million. He’d get it somewhere, just not here. That was the word as late as yesterday after Kane and agent Daniel Milstein rejected an offer by Holland and were given permission to talk to other teams. It was fun while it lasted, but adios. Good luck. Well, not so fast.
In the end, Holland and Milstein made it work with four years and $20.5 million, an AAV of $5.125 million. There’s still the matter of Kane’s arbitration hearing with the San Jose Sharks – Jason Gregor spelled it out in his item this morning – but unless Kane wins his appeal, the Oilers will retain a core player who outperformed every expectation and provides a combination of speed, toughness and skill this forward group didn’t have.
Based strictly on his on-ice performance and production, Kane is worth a lot more than what he just signed for with the Oilers. The reality, though, is Kane isn’t seen only through the lens of what he does on the ice. Kane arrived in Edmonton with plenty of baggage. It was a factor in the Oilers deciding whether to take him on in the first place and it remained a factor in how much term that they and other teams were willing to offer now.
While there was no indication whatsoever that Kane had been anything but a good teammate and a good citizen with the Oilers last season — in tandem with exceeding every expectation in the mix alongside Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl — it felt like Kane was bracing himself to leave Edmonton in early June.
“I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to play with such a committed, hardworking and loyal group of men,” Kane wrote on his Twitter account June 9. “The Edmonton Oilers are a first-class organization with such great staff from top to bottom and I thank them for giving me the opportunity to play for such a historic franchise. To the fans of Edmonton, I thank you for treating my family and I with such kindness and respect.”
So, we went from what sounded like goodbye then to “I’m back” from Kane this morning on Twitter. That, and the acquisition of Campbell as a UFA from the Toronto Maple Leafs checks off the top two boxes on Holland’s off-season to-do list right out of the blocks. I didn’t see the return of Kane coming and “win now” is obviously still a thing around here. Carry on.
Want to watch the next generation of hockey stars before they make the show? The World Junior Championship is coming to Edmonton and this is your call to grab tickets! Get your tickets here.
Previously by Robin Brownlee
- A Season Well Spent
- About Jack
- Off the Top of My Head
- Evander and Jesse
- At Random: The Draft
- Off the Top of My Head