Knoblauch: There’s a ‘good’ chance Evander Kane returns for Oilers in Stanley Cup Finals

Edmonton Oilers Evander Kane
Photo credit:Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 month ago
Evander Kane found himself on the outside looking in at the Oilers’ lineup for Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals in Edmonton.
Battling through injury in these playoffs, telling reporters ahead of the Oilers opening-round matchup against the Los Angeles Kings that he was dealing with a sports hernia.
Kane scored two goals and three points in five games against the Kings, adding two goals and four points in seven games. But as the Oilers progressed through the playoffs, Kane saw his ice time average 19:20 through the first three games against the Dallas Stars, dropping down to 13:32 in Games 4 and 5. Early in Game 6, however, Kane was shaken up after a first-period hit on Stars defenceman Alex Petrovic, forcing him out of the rest of the game.
He was able to play in Games 1 and 2 against the Panthers, playing 15:22 and 10:33, but drew out of the lineup for the two most recent games. After scoring seven points with 28 shots in his first 11 games of the playoffs, averaging 15:24 of ice time, but in his most recent nine games, he contributed just one assist and 16 shots on goal, averaging 14:25 of ice time.
When asked Monday if Kane could draw back into the Oilers lineup at some point in the Stanley Cup Finals, Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch said it was possible.
“Yeah, I think it’s good.”
During Oilers practice Monday, the Oilers had the same lineup in place as it was during Game 4, with Kane absent from the skate as he has been for all the playoffs. If Kane were to return for Game 5, it poses a curious question about who Knoblauch and co. would be removed from the lineup.
The most likely option would be for him to replace one of Corey Perry or Derek Ryan. I’d suggest Perry would be the most likely one, given he’s playing the right side on the fourth line, but if Ryan were to come out, McLoed would likely shift over to centre on that line. McLeod, however, appears to be playing better on the wing instead of up the middle.
Edmonton’s third line of Mattias Janmark, Adam Henrique and Connor Brown were excellent for the Oilers in Game 4, accounting for the first two goals of the game, and it’s hard to imagine the top-six getting shaken up.
During Monday’s edition of The Jeff Marek Show, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said he heard Kane might be out for the remainder of these playoffs.
“It comes down to health,” he said. “If you go back to when we interviewed Ken Holland before Game 3, I said to him, ‘I heard Kane might be out for the year.’
“I understand he’s been going through a lot to play. We knew he was hurt going in, now he’s hurt even more from playing. Every year, there’s at least one guy on a team — everybody’s hurt, like we said — but Jeff, there’s at least one guy on a team who’s kind of like ‘I can’t believe what that guy’s going through to play,’ and it sounds like Kane is kind of gotten to that level.
“So, I had heard he might not play the rest of the year, and Holland disagreed with that. He didn’t flat out said no, but he said ‘If we go deep into this series, we could see him again.’ I just don’t see why you’d switch anything up. Like I know Kane is a helluva player, but after that night, why would you fiddle around with it?”
Based on how protective Knoblauch has been about lineup changes in these Stanley Cup Finals, it’s unlikely we’ll learn more about Kane’s status until the warmups on Tuesday night.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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