The Oilers are welcoming Evander Kane back to their lineup tonight for the first time since November 8th when he suffered a gruesome wrist injury against the Tampa Bay Lightning. At the time, it was expected that Kane would be out for 3-4 months, but his return comes earlier than that time frame and obviously gives the Oilers a huge boost as they look to turn their season around.
When Kane joined me on The Real Life Podcast earlier this month, he told us about how the initial timeline given to him by doctors was six months and when he heard that, he called his agent and said “I won’t be out for six months.”
Some are saying he’s being rushed back into the lineup, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Kane told reporters yesterday that his shot isn’t going to be 100% right out of the gates, but it won’t be all season. This kind of injury takes a long time to really get back to that point as the nerves he damaged look to repair themselves.
If Kane thinks he can step in and contribute and doctors have cleared him to play, I want that guy in my lineup. Even if his shot isn’t 100%, he’s still going to be effective for this team. They really missed him over the last 10 weeks.
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Now that he’s back, the Oilers face a cap crunch similar to what they dealt with at the beginning of the season when everyone was healthy. 
And tonight, the team will be making Jesse Puljujarvi a healthy scratch, sources tell Oilersnation.
For the last week or so, the big talk has been centred around who the Oilers would send through waivers to make Kane’s return possible. It would have had to of been one of Derek Ryan, Matthias Janmark, Warren Foegele, or Jesse Puljujarvi. None of those are particularly easy decisions to make.
Even though Foegele is struggling, the Oilers might be wise to keep him in the NHL with the hope he gets hot and regains a little bit of trade value so they could get out from his contract before the trade deadline.
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Instead of having to send a player through waivers, the Oilers instead put Kailer Yamamoto onto LTIR. This means he’ll be out of the lineup until after the NHL All-Star break. That solves their cap crunch for the time being, but it is far from a permanent solution.
We’ve also been speculating about whether or not the team would be forced to trade a player that makes over $2.5 million like Foegele or Puljujarvi and while they don’t need to make a move now, they probably will before the trade deadline, if not sooner.
Our NHL Insider Frank Seravalli spoke about this today on Daily Faceoff Live, which is a must-watch show if you want to stay informed ahead of the NHL trade deadline.
“Essentially the Oilers have kicked their cap problem down the road” by putting Yamamoto on LTIR and giving him a chance to reset, he said.
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Once he’s healthy and ready to come off LTIR, they’ll have to make a corresponding salary cap move.
“The Oilers were preparing for this type of circumstance before Yamamoto was hurt on January 11th,” Seravalli added, noting “Ken Holland put some feelers out to the rest of the NHL.”
He went on to add that it was no secret that the Oilers would have had to waive one of Derek Ryan, Jesse Puljujarvi, or Warren Foegele and that Holland let it be known that those players would be available to other teams.
“I’m told the Oilers engaged in conversation with a couple teams about Jesse Puljujarvi and I think the conversations were actually pretty promising on that front,” Seravalli said. “Puljujarvi did generate some interest from a handful of teams around the NHL which is good news for the Oilers as it gets closer to the trade deadline.”
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A few months ago, it seemed like the Oilers may have had to attach an asset to Puljujarvi in order to offload his $3-million cap hit, but now, Seravalli says that may not be the case.
If you want to watch the full segment, you can find it below. Frank had interesting insider info on the future of Timo Meier and a team that may be pursuing him ahead of the deadline and he gave some insight into the health of Golden Knights forward Mark Stone.