If you haven’t heard already, there’s a new guy in town. It’s been an interesting few weeks for Oilers fans after the rumours swirled around the hockey community that the former San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane had been allegedly chatting with Oilers GM Ken Holland, and furthermore the announcement from the Oilers that Kane has now signed a one-year contract with the team.
Kane’s NHL career began in 2009 after being drafted as the fourth overall pick to the Atlanta Thrashers. Kane played two seasons with the Thrashers when the team suddenly relocated and, in turn, resulted in the re-birth of the Winnipeg Jets, where Kane played another four seasons before being traded to Buffalo in 2015. Finally, after three-ish seasons with Buffalo, Kane was traded once again in 2017 to the San Jose Sharks.
Kane had been doing exceptionally well, posting 49 points in 56 games in the 2019-2020 season. Unfortunately, in March of 2020, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced a suspension to the remainder of the season, resulting in a condensed playoff proceeding. The Sharks missed the playoffs, which they had not done since the 2014-2015 season.
So what makes Evander Kane such a controversial NHL player? He puts up points, isn’t that all a guy has to do? Unfortunately for Kane, he’s been a part of a series of controversial incidents that started back in 2014 when a Vancouver resident filed a lawsuit against Kane for alleged assault. Kane admitted later to throwing three punches at the resident for self-defence after police investigation charges were declined against Kane.
In 2016 judges dismissed Kane from four charges of non-criminal harassment and one charge of criminal trespassing with the condition that he remains out of trouble in the future.
Another major incident happened in 2019 when a Las Vegas Casino filed a lawsuit against Kane for unpaid gambling debt worth $500,000 USD.
In turn, this all concluded in Kane filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy in January of 2021.
After more allegations, Kane was suspended for 21 games during October of 2021 season and was sent down to San Jose’s AHL or “farm team” after the suspension was lifted, all due to the submission of a fake vaccination card to the NHL. In early January, Kane was placed on unconditional waivers with San Jose, and a contract termination followed.
A list of Kane’s controversial moments can be found on Overtime Heroics website.
What does this mean for the Oilers?:
A wave of mixed emotions from Oilers fans quickly took over social media after the news that those rumours of Kane signing with Edmonton were most likely accurate. On Jan. 27, those waves of emotions turned into tsunamis after the NHL announced that Kane had, in fact, signed a one-year deal worth $750,000 and included a hefty signing bonus.
For some, the signing of Kane meant an off-ice dynamic might be broken, but for others, including Oilers players, the organization, and Kane, the big move meant a second chance for the former San Jose right-winger and possibly another asset to the Oilers post-season hopes.
“I believe in second chances, It’s hard to be perfect, and we’re all people. We all make mistakes”, said Oilers GM Ken Holland in a press conference on Jan. 11.
“Some make big mistakes, some make little mistakes, but it’s hard to be perfect… they have to learn from it and try to change and should be entitled to a second opportunity.” The full interview can be found on Sportsnet’s Youtube.
So with Kane now wearing an Oilers logo on his jersey, what does this mean for the Oilers?
Let’s start with more secondary scoring. Yes, we have number 97 and number 29 that are still leading goal scorers, but with Kane now sitting nicely on the left side of McDavid, the team should see more from the top-six forward who has 266 career goals in 776 games. Oilers fans caught a glimpse of this in Kane’s debut with the team against the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 29 when Kane tipped in a shot from Evan Bouchard, scoring his first goal in an Oilers jersey. You can watch Kane’s first goal wearing orange and blue here.
Physical presence isn’t something to be underestimated with Evander Kane. He’s a six-foot-two forward with a muscular build, which means solid legs and a strong stride. He’s got power, and he’s tremendously good at tracking down the puck.
There’s no doubt Kane will be a beneficial addition to this Oilers crew on the ice, especially now when the Oilers are struggling and facing doubts from fans. As Ken Holland mentioned before, hopefully, Kane has learned from his mistakes and can create a positive change with his time in Edmonton and hopefully can help the Oilers clinch a spot in the post-season.
At the time of print, Kane has played seven games with the Oilers and has totaled two goals and two assists. The Oilers look to face the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, Feb. 15.
Graphics: Nawaal Basha