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Can Edmonton Oilers forward Evander Kane bounce back to form?

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Photo credit:© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Aleena Aksenchuk
9 months ago
We’re 92 days out from the beginning of the Edmonton Oilers’ 2023-24 season. As exciting as it is, many questions remain to be answered. After a tough season, one of those questions is, can gritty forward Evander Kane bounce back to form?
Kane was given a fresh opportunity as he joined the Oilers halfway through the 2021-22 season. It was a chance for redemption and revitalization for the troubled forward and saw him ink a pro-rated deal through the end of the campaign costing Edmonton $2.1-million against the cap.
When Kane joined the Oilers for his first game in the classic blue and orange threads on January 29, 2022, he wasted no time making his presence known in his new city. He created an even more significant boost to the Oilers’ dominant offence, scoring his first goal as an Oiler in a 7-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. His strong play continued to grow and develop as he scored 22 goals and 39 points in 43 games, with an additional 13 goals and 17 points in Edmonton’s 15-game playoff run. His knack for finding the back of the net and creating scoring chances gave the Oilers a potent weapon to complement the superstar duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
His determination and offensive prowess brought a new dimension to the Oilers’ game, securing him a four-year, $20.5 million contract in July of 2022. Recognizing the need for change, he committed himself to personal growth and took steps to address the issues that had plagued him in the past. Kane’s dedication to self-improvement and willingness to confront his demons earned him respect within the Oilers’ organization and the support of his teammates.
The 2022-23 season would secure his first complete year with the team, and there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he would pan out to be at least a 40-goal scorer. Unfortunately, if you tuned in at any point this past season, you’d know this was not the case. In early November, Tampa Bay Lightning’s forward Patrick Maroon accidentally stepped on his wrist, putting him out for 31 games, but an ostensibly quick return made it hard not to ask whether or not it was too soon.
Before the injury, the winger averaged nearly a point per game with five goals and 13 points in the first 14 games of the year, and he was seemingly on pace with what was expected of him for the season. After the injury, his savvy shot wasn’t quite the same, and his numbers dropped to just 11 goals and 15 points in the remaining 27 games of the regular season. It’s important to note he also suffered a few broken ribs in late February, causing him to miss yet another 10 games.
We did not see the Kane we were all hoping for this season to showcase his talent and turn everyone’s heads. Still, after a second-round playoff exit and more injuries that surfaced, the forward should have plenty of time to bounce back into form for 2023-24.
Recently, we saw Evander getting back into action through something a little different than what we’re typically used to, summer beer league hockey. He’s already back on the ice and having fun, so that’s already good to see.
I think it’s safe to say playing on the second line with what would be expected to be Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Draisaitl — as Daily Faceoff projects Connor Brown to slide into the top line with McDavid and Hyman — can mark Kane’s year to get near that hopeful 40 goal season.
Looking at the numbers, Kane’s CF% was just over even this season at 50.7, and that’s with almost half the season missed. That number could easily increase as the forward aims for a healthy year with his ability to control the puck. His goals for at five-on-five may have been lower than his goals against while on the ice this year, but again injury and a decreased number of games may have played a role in his ability to produce at 100%.
He is undoubtedly a top-six forward, and having time to fully recover from his injury-plagued season and spend time with his family, who recently acquired a new addition with baby Hendrix, should put him into a good physical and mental space in time for the beginning of the season and give him the ability to bounce back into form.

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