Welcome to the 2021-22 season review and 2022-23 season preview player-by-player! In this, and other articles, I’ll be, well, reviewing the Edmonton Oilers 2021-22 season and previewing the 2022-23 season. You can read about the analytics behind my analysis here.
Has there been a more significant mid-season pick-up in recent years than having Evander Kane join the Edmonton Oilers? Off the top of my head, I don’t think so.
After having his contract terminated by the San Jose Sharks partway through the season, Kane joined the Oilers on a pro-rated, one-year with a cap hit of $2.1-million. All he did was blow the doors off.
In 43 regular season games, he scored 22 goals and 39 points and in the playoffs, he filled the net with 13 goals and 17 points in 15 games. He found himself riding shotgun to Connor McDavid, and the pair packed a potent punch in the offensive zone with some tremendous production.
Kane plays a physical, big man game laying 11.36 hits per 60 minutes at 5×5. He drove to the net where he created the most high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes in his last five years.
The conversation now lies in what’s next for Kane, and what should the Oilers be willing to give the pending free agent?
G – A – P
Kane’s underlying numbers are an interesting bunch, so let’s split them up into some pros, and cons.
His biggest pros are that he drove play at an elite rate offensively with strong shot attempt and scoring chances for rates. With Kane on the ice, the Oilers scored at a torried pace that allowed his GF% to rise exponentially.
The cons were there, too. With him on the ice relative to his teammates, the Oilers gave up a lot of shot attempts and scoring chances against. On top of that, Kane had a heavily inflated 103.5 PDO suggesting there was a good amount of luck that came his way.
This can also be seen with his expected goal rate falling .44 goals for per hour below his actual goals scored. Part of this could be due to a small sample size of 43 games, but those are numbers you’d like to see much closer in line. Again, it suggests that there was a good amount of luck involved with his scoring pace. And of course, some of that can be due to playing alongside the best player in the world, too.
Some of Kane’s warts get exposed looking at his isolated impact charts, where there is not a lot to like at all. Kane provides even-stregnth offence at a five percent rate below league average while providing even-strength defence at a four percent rate below league average. Kane’s finishing impact rested two percent above league average this year, while his powerplay contributions were strong at five percent above league average.
A lot of Kane’s goals came from the right side of the net, but there wasn’t much dangerous from the left side. Defensively, the Oilers allowed a ton of looks from down low in front of the net.
So what can we discern through it all? Evander Kane is a relatively one-dimensional player: a power forward who plays the body and can score. That’s about it. Now, that’s not to say he’s a horrible player by any means, but it’s something to consider when you’re examining what his next contract should look like.
And that’s part of the reason I’m cool on the Oilers going out of their way to try and re-sign Kane. There’s a better than zero chance that he could be a 40 goal scorer with McDavid over the course of a full season His play style complements McDavid well, too, with an ability to play physical and create space. His strong shot is a great addition to the mix, too. But defensively, there’s not much there to like from Kane’s game.
According to Evolving Hockey’s contract projections, his most likely contract is a seven-year deal paying him a cap hit of $7.474-m. His average contract carries a 4.5-year term and a $6.774-m cap hit.
At 30 years old, those are contracts too rich for my blood. I like the player a lot and I like how he looked alongside McDavid, but that term and money for a player like Kane is one that a team could regret in short order. His physical style of play doesn’t do his body any favours.
A few years ago, the Oilers made a big swing by picking up Milan Lucic in free agency. They signed him to a seven-year contract with an AAV of $6-million. While his first impression was great in Edmonton getting into a fight in his first game and scoring 23 goals and 50 points in 82 games that year, his game fell off a cliff.
Now I’m not going to say Evander Kane is destined for the same fate, but I’d caution any sort of long-term deal — even with the Oilers’ cup window being wide open right now — especially when someone like Claude Giroux could be had for less term and less money.
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 [email protected]
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