Off the Top of My Head
Photo credit:Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
1 year ago
Evander Kane bid the Edmonton Oilers farewell on social media without actually saying goodbye Thursday, didn’t he? It sure read like that to me. How about you? A snippet from Kane’s Twitter message to fans reads:
“I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to play with such a committed, hardworking and loyal group of men. 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.”
For all the controversy surrounding Kane based on off-ice issues and the baggage that came with him, there’s no question that he delivered everything expected and more during his time with the Oilers. Notably in the playoffs, thanks in large part to an out-of-this-world 22.8 per cent post-season shooting percentage.
The bottom line is Kane produced. He was a game-breaker and difference-maker during the regular season as well with 22-17-39 in 43 games. Kane is skilled, tough and fast. He competes. That’s not lost in the dressing room, where players know teammates far more intimately than outsiders like you or I do.
WHAT THEY SAY
May 4, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal by forward Evander Kane (91) during the third period against Los Angeles Kings in game two of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
“Guys like that are rare,” said Leon Draisaitl. “What did he score, 13 goals in the playoffs? By playing hard, but doing it the right way. Those guys are hard to come by. Those are the guys that you can go on runs with, the type of guys that you’re going to win with, eventually. He was amazing off the ice. He was a great teammate, and on the ice, he had a great year.”
This from Zach Hyman during exit interviews: “He revamped the top six. He was able to play with anybody there and have success and score big goals. He leads the playoffs in scoring to date right now and is just a huge part of our team. Just a massive addition.”
Past problems aside — I was one of the people who didn’t want the Oilers to sign Kane in the first place because of his history of off-ice issues — I don’t see how the term and money he’ll command as an UFA adds up or makes sense for GM Ken Holland and the Oilers given the lack of salary cap space he’s working with.
Will Kane’s next AAV start at $7 million as some suggest? Rest assured, Kane will get paid somewhere, as he should after the kind of season he just put together, but here? I can’t see it.
May 18, 2022; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi (13) collides with Calgary Flames defenseman Nikita Zadorov (16) during the first period in game one of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Holland’s remarks about Jesse Puljujarvi in his media availability were interesting even before an unconfirmed report from a Finnish outlet indicated Puljujarvi needs off-season shoulder surgery after he was injured in Game 4 vs. Colorado.
“I’ve got to sort out Jesse,” Holland said as he talked with reporters about off-season business. When Jim Matheson of Post Media asked Holland if Puljujarvi is part of the solution, Holland said, “That’s what I’ve got to sort out.”
I’m not jumping between those who think Puljujarvi can do no wrong and those who think he can do no right except to say I think he’s worth taking a longer look at as long as the money isn’t goofy. For me, doubling the $1.4 million he has to be qualified at as some have suggested based on what he might do makes no sense.
Puljujarvi could get more than the basic QO if he goes to arbitration, but I’m not doubling the salary of a 14-goal scorer based on underlying numbers. Bridge deal, then fish or cut bait.
WHILE I’M AT IT
Former Oiler Steve Staios, GM of the Hamilton Bulldogs, has been named the OHL general manager of the year. Under Staios and coach Jay McKee, the Bulldogs went 51-12-3-2 during the regular season. They’re playing the Windsor Spitfires in the best-of-seven OHL final.
Staios, 48, a Hamilton native who played 573 games with the Oilers during a 16-year NHL career, is in his seventh year as president and GM of the Bulldogs, having steered the club to its first OHL Championship in 2018.
As an aside, Steve’s son, Nathan, was named OHL defenceman of the year this week. Staios, 21, joins Evan Bouchard of the Oilers, Mikhail Sergachev of Tampa Bay and Aaron Ekblad of Florida Panthers as winners of the award.
AND . . .
Heartfelt congratulations to Robin Bawa, who was just inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame with former Vancouver Canucks teammates Gino Odjick and Kirk McLean.
It was a long road to get there for Bawa, who was the first Punjabi player to make it to the NHL when he played for the Washington Capitals in 1989-90. Five years ago or so, I wrote about my time covering his days with the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL here.
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