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Monday Mailbag – Do the Oilers try re-signing Evander Kane?

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Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
baggedmilk
8 months ago
Happy Monday, friends! As always, I’ve got a brand new Mailbag set and ready to help you get your week started and make sense of everything that’s going on with our beloved Edmonton Oilers. This week, we’re talking about the special teams struggles, Evander Kane’s future with the team, Pacific Division playoff race, and more. If you’ve got got a question you’d like to ask, email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.
Jan 29, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29) celebrates his goal against Montreal Canadiens with teammates during the second period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
1) Allan asks – Can anyone explain what is going on with the Oilers’ special teams right now? Back in October/November, Edmonton looked unstoppable on the power play and now they’re struggling to even get set up in the zone. What is everyone’s take on what happened?
Jason Gregor:
The penalty kill is a bigger concern. It has struggled for many months and under Woodcroft, it is an ugly 72.4% in 12 games. They’ve allowed at least one power play goal in nine games and 12 PPG overall. Better goaltending on the PK will help, but their killers are getting spread out too much and cross-seam or cross-diagonal passes are occurring too easily.
The PP is 19.2%. They have the talent to be higher. They are getting good looks and not finishing, but I’d like to see more movement as they had earlier in the season. However, if they bury two of the many good chances they’ve missed then their PP is right around 25%. I’d be much more concerned with the PK than the PP right now.
Robin Brownlee:
More concerned about the PK than the PP. Power play has fallen off after an unsustainable start, but it’s still in the top 5. PK has plummeted to the bottom six and has been terrible at home lately.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
It’s mind-blowing how their powerplay went from almost automatic to well below average. I think they need to change up their zone entry strategy and I think they need to have the four players who aren’t standing in front of the net move around the offensive zone more. They’re too predictable right now. I do think that they can get the powerplay going again soon.
Baggedmilk:
Honestly, I’m so dumbfounded by how this is even the same team that was lights out on the PP and PK back in October/November. How does the same team with the same personnel fall apart so spectacularly within the same season? It doesn’t make any sense to me.
Jan 22, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen (19) makes a save on a shot by Calgary Flames forward Milan Lucic (not pictured) during the second period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
2) Sara asks – Seeing as the Pacific Division race is already so close, what record do you think the Oilers need to have down the stretch to lock in a playoff spot? Which team is their biggest competitor for that spot?
Jason Gregor:
If they go 15-10-1 they’d finish with 95 points. To be safe I’d say they need to go 16-9-1 and finish with 97 to ensure a spot in the dance.
Robin Brownlee:
No idea what record it will take. Winning games against other Western Conference teams in the playoff race is the key.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
With 26 games to go, I think they need to go 16-10 at minimum. That would put them at 96 points and that should be enough to get in. Winning the head-to-head games against LA and Vegas will be HUGE though.
Baggedmilk:
Not sure what the record they’d need will be but winning one, losing one, winning two, losing two can’t happen. They need to get on a run of wins here or we’re going to have a very long summer.
Feb 15, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) is replaced by goaltender Mikko Koskinen (19) during the second period against the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
3) Dale asks – Ken Holland has said recently that he’s confident with his goaltending group down the stretch even they’ve been incredibly inconsistent all year. Do you think the goaltending duo is his biggest bet of the season and one that could hurt us the most?
Jason Gregor:
At some point they have to give Skinner a look don’t they?. I’m still not sure how good he can be, but it will be difficult to win if they can’t get consistent goaltending. Mike Smith didn’t make a big save v. Montreal while Sam Montrembeault robbed Leon Draisaitl in the final seconds of the first period. If he doesn’t make that save the game might have been completely different. Edmonton needs more of that from their goalies, but is anyone confident they can do it consistently?
Robin Brownlee:
Mike Smith is awful right now, but you can’t just sit him and ride Koskinen because we’ve seen what happens with that. Can you go with Koskinen and Skinner? Is there a better option that’s available out there at a price that makes sense? Big question.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
It absolutely is the bet that will hurt the Oilers the most and it already has hurt them pretty significantly. If Holland doesn’t do something soon, the Oilers don’t have a hope of making the playoffs. CALL UP SKINNER!
Baggedmilk:
I’d say so. Going back to the well on Mikko and Smith was a major gamble for Ken Holland, and to have the latter look like he doesn’t even belong in the AHL has been a total disaster. Bring up Skinner, what are we waiting for?
Feb 14, 2022; San Jose, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Evander Kane (91) warms up before the game against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
4) James in Peterborough asks – Evander Kane is nearing the 20 games played mark with the Oilers. How would you grade his performance to date, and do you see the club trying to sign him long-term?
Jason Gregor:
He has been very good. He’s outscored the opposition 10-3 (76.9GF%) when he’s on the ice at 5×5. Only Duncan Keith is better at 80% since Kane arrived. Kane has eight goals and 14 points and six goals have come even strength. He’s been physical and also on numerous occasions he’s made excellent plays on the backcheck. He’s been as good as I expected and ideally for the Oilers  Hollands sign him to a short-term extension. But a new deal likely won’t happen until Kane has a ruling on his grievance v. the Sharks. If Kane gets 50% of the $22m owed to him then he doesn’t have to pick the team that will pay him the most. If he loses the appeal and gets nothing, I’d understand if he chases the money at that point.
Robin Brownlee:
He’s been excellent because he adds dimensions — speed, skill, and toughness. Until I see Kane fly straight for more than a couple of months, I’m not signing him beyond two or three years. History says there’s a risk in that. No reason not to assess after this season/playoffs and a longer look.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I don’t think any team in the league will offer him a long-term deal. If the Oilers could get him on a two-year deal with a cap hit of around $3 million then they should consider it. Anything more than that and I think you let Kane go chase a pay day elsewhere.
Baggedmilk:
Kane has been excellent for the Oilers and he’s bringing everything to the table that we knew he would. As for re-signing him, I honestly doubt Edmonton would be in his top-5 destinations for his next contract but it may not be up to him at this point. Would I consider it? Certainly, but it would have to be a short-term deal and I don’t know if that will get the job done.
5) Brett asks – By the time the mailbag is posted, the Oilers will have only 25 games left in the regular season and I’m wondering how much pressure do you think is felt within the organization just to make the playoffs? Could missing cost Ken Holland his job?
Jason Gregor:
If they miss the playoffs then for sure Holland will be on the hot seat. How could he not. But being on the hot seat and losing his job are different outcomes. Is Katz willing to pay him $10m not to work? Katz might be so annoyed he doesn’t care about the money, but the salary owed is a factor.
Robin Brownlee:
Missing the playoffs would be a fail at every level from top to bottom. Holland can’t survive a non-playoff finish.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I don’t think it will cost Ken Holland his job, but it should. He had so much cap space this summer and he failed to improve the team. That’s fireable in itself right there. I just don’t think Katz will want to stomach $10 million of dead money by firing his GM right now. I do worry about what could happen this summer with Holland in charge though.
Baggedmilk:
Holland would have to go. He’s one of the highest-paid execs in the league and would have failed with the two best players on the planet on his roster. Grounds for immediate dismissal.

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