Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Evander Kane’s Production a Welcome Addition
By Jason Gregor3 months ago
Evander Kane scored 22 goals and 39 points in 43 regular season games after signing as a free agent midway through the 2021-22 season. He was even more productive in the playoffs, scoring 13 goals and 17 points in 15 playoff games.
He began last season with 5-8-13 in his first 13 games, before suffering a gruesome wrist injury in Tampa Bay on November 8th. Kane was lying on the ice, when Lightning forward Patrick Maroon accidentally skated across Kane’s left wrist.
It was the beginning of a rough stretch for Kane.
“Last season was tough, obviously,” said Kane after scoring his first hat-trick of the season and fourth as an Oilers. “I was going at a point-per-game clip when I injured my wrist, and then I came back sooner than people expected and two games in I break my ribs. It is tough to come in and out of the lineup with, what I would call, severe injuries, but at the same time, when I’m playing there are no excuses not to produce.”
Kane finished with 11 goals and 15 points in the final 29 games after returning from his wrist injury. The broken ribs limited him and he wasn’t as impactful down the stretch or into the playoffs.
He had a slow start with only one assist in his first five games, but he’s found his groove with 7-7-14 in his last 10 games. And he’s been a consistent physical presence.
“It is nice to get in a rhythm,” admitted Kane. “To start a season on time, build some momentum as you go further into the season, and I think that is kind of what is happening with our whole group, and for me personally just trying to play the way I know I can.”
Kane is at his best when he is hitting, chirping and playing closer to the net. He’s done exactly that the past 10 games.
“That is where we have to score goals right now,” Kane said. “A lot of our goals are coming from around the net, guys are going there and when we put pucks there it makes it more important to go there and it creates guys wanting to go there when pucks are going to the net. When you stick with it, as I think our group as done, the bounces, and the chances and the finish will come. We’ve seen a little bit of that lately.”
Kane and Hyman‘s recent hat tricks came at the perfect time as the Oilers’ offence still hasn’t kicked into high gear yet, but with 12 goals in their last three games it is showing signs of life. With Connor McDavid producing below his lofty standards Edmonton needs more players chipping in.
“Hockey is a team sport,” said Kane. “Connor and Leon produce at historical clips every single season, so if they have a period of time one season where they are not producing at historical clips, and they are still point-per-game guys, other guys have to step up. That is why we have other guys on the team. It is important for them to know that their teammates can step up and play well and contribute when they (97 and 29) maybe are not at 100 percent. When we get those guys rolling again, like they have been the past two games, and we get our support players going as well we are a tough team to beat.”
The bottom-six needs to show a pulse offensively — sooner than later. I get they are creating chances, but they need to produce actual goals.
Sep 27, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor Brown (28) protects the puck from Vancouver Canucks defensemen Quinn Hughes (43) during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Connor Brown will play tomorrow and he’ll skate on a line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Connor McDavid. Brown’s $3.25m performance bonus kicks tomorrow when he plays in his 10th game. I understand the concern about it, as most, if not all of the bonus, will be dead cap space next year. It isn’t ideal, but suggestions the Oilers should send Brown to the minors because he’s pointless in nine game, are equally pointless.
If he had 2-2-4 right now, the bonus would still hurt next season. There was always a big risk with this deal. Nine games without a point won’t change that. If Brown goes on a heater it won’t change it either, it will only lower the frustration level among some fans. What is perplexing to me about all the rage, is this deal was always going to hurt next season. Having a good or bad start is only white noise. The end result — bonuses carrying over to next season — was always going to happen.
And what if Brown plays great down the stretch and into the playoffs? If he does, it might change the optics, but again, that doesn’t change the reality of the cap hit. Go read the comments online or here at the Nation when it was announced the Oilers signed him to this deal. If you weren’t outraged then, you shouldn’t let nine games have you red-faced.
This deal was always a gamble. Of course you want Brown to produce, but even if he scored 25 goals this season the challenge of the $3.25m dead cap space wouldn’t be any better than if he scores 10 goals. The deal was always more about him helping them in the playoffs. And he still might. He also might not. No one knows at this point.
The GM, whoever it is, will need to make some savvy moves in the off-season and find some players on value deals, who become great value contracts. Sign someone for 4750K to $1m and have them produce 20 goals. That was always the risk, and it has never changed regardless of how much Brown produces this season.
Seeing him produce might allow some to feel the deal was worth it, but when next season begins the cap hit will still be there. If you truly believe Brown doesn’t make the Oilers better this season, then you can demand he go to the minors. But if it is only cap related, you’re wasting your time. He was never going down for cap reasons.
I thought he actually played quite well in his final five games before tweaking his groin. The Oilers need him to find his offence, and not just in shots and chance, but actual goals an assists. There are many skaters who need to produce more and he’s one.
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