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WWYDW(ME): When Evander Kane returns, who goes?

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Photo credit:© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
15 days ago
It looks like Evander Kane’s return to the Edmonton Oilers lineup is right around the corner.
Ken Holland said on Friday that his conservative estimate for Kane’s return would be two weeks while former NHL referee Tim Peel mentioned on Sunday that the winger will be back when the Oilers host the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday. Peel isn’t your typical insider, but he was right about Kane signing with the Oilers last January, for what it’s worth.
Whether it comes on Tuesday or some point next week, Kane’s return to Edmonton’s active roster will require some financial maneuvering from Holland. The Oilers are currently getting a bonus cushion with Kane on the Long-Term Injured Reserve and fitting his $5.125 million salary cap hit under the ceiling will ultimately shove multiple players off the roster.
Here’s what Hart Levine of PuckPedia suggested the Oilers do in order to become cap compliant…
  • Send Devin Shore down ($850K)
  • Send Vincent Desharnais down ($763K)
  • Put Ryan Murray ($750K) on LTIR
  • Send one down making $1.125M+
The first three of those moves are simple. Devin Shore hasn’t played since New Year’s Eve and will very likely clear through waivers and Ryan Murray has been injured since November and his name hasn’t been mentioned in weeks. Vincent Desharnais has played well since his call-up and Markus Niemelainen has the same cap hit, so the big Finn could go down instead.
The bigger challenge is deciding which player with a cap hit of $1.125 million should be placed on waivers. Here are the options…

Mattias Janmark

Janmark was the cap casualty before the start of the season. He cleared through waivers back in October but it seems less likely the Oilers would be able to get him through now. The 30-year-old has scored four goals and 13 points over 31 games since being called up and he’s also one of Jay Woodcroft’s most-used penalty killers.
It would be very surprising to see Janmark wind up being the odd man out again.

Derek Ryan

Ryan was the veteran jack-of-all-trades type bottom-six forward that the Oilers opted to keep at the start of the season instead of Janmark. Through 43 games this season, the 36-year-old has five goals and nine points playing mostly on the wing. He’s also a reliable penalty killer and can be used as a centre in a pinch.
Given the fact he’s cheap and isn’t signed for next season, it wouldn’t be shocking for a playoff team with some cap room to grab Ryan if he winds up on waivers.

Jesse Puljujarvi

This would obviously be a very controversial move.
Puljujarvi has solid underlying numbers but the results haven’t been there this season, as his four goals and 10 points through 45 games is underwhelming considering his $3 million cap hit. Another knock against Puljujarvi in this discussion is that Woodcroft doesn’t use him on the penalty kill.
It’s well known that Puljujarvi is seeking a change of scenery but Holland has been adamant about not giving him away for nothing in the past. If he goes on waivers, there will likely be a team such as the Buffalo Sabres or Arizona Coyotes with a lot of cap room willing to take a flyer on the former No. 4 overall pick.

Warren Foegele

As with Puljujarvi, Foegele’s production of four goals and eight points over the course of 32 games isn’t what you’d like to see from a player being paid $2.75 million annually. The 26-year-old has been a healthy scratch a handful of times in the past month and likely falls behind Ryan and Janmark in this discussion because he isn’t often used on the penalty kill.
Foegele doesn’t have the draft pedigree or upside that Puljujarvi does so there’s a better chance that he could be slipped through waivers. Though he’s a solid player, most teams would probably want to avoid taking a flyer on a depth player who’s already signed for next season.

What does it all mean?

Another thing worth considering here is that the aforementioned strategy from PuckPedia would result in the Oilers operating with an active roster that features 19 skaters and two goaltenders. It’s fine for the short term as the team’s upcoming schedule offers them some rest and some weak opponents but only having one reserve available down the stretch really isn’t ideal.
With that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising if Holland looks to pull the trigger on a trade before activating Kane. Maybe Puljujarvi gets his change of scenery and the Oilers get a draft pick in return or maybe Foegele is moved somewhere else for a depth defender who doesn’t cost as much. Who knows.
Jason Gregor also suggested last week that Holland can delay this decision by instead sending down Dylan Holloway to get some reps in the AHL for a few weeks…
I could see them running with a 20-man roster for two games. They can activate Kane on January 24th (or a few days earlier) and send Holloway and company to the AHL. They would be able to play six AHL games between January 25th to February 3rd. The Oilers play two games on Jan 25th and 28th, but don’t play again until February 7th. So Holloway could play big minutes for six AHL games, while Holland would have two more weeks to make a deal and not waive a veteran.
What say you, Nation? What should Ken Holland do in order to make the Oilers cap compliant when Evander Kane is ready to return? Will one of those forwards get waived? Will there be a trade? Let us know!

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