For Oilers general manager Ken Holland’s demanding moves: be careful what you wish for. After the NHL concluded its investigation about Evander Kane and allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent, the Oilers made the highly questionable decision to sign him for the remainder of this season.
Out of context, the Oilers sign Evander Kane on the cheap. However, it is much more difficult to assess how much goodwill they have lost by making this bet.
Oilers sign Evander Kane: cheap only in terms of salary cap
The Oilers have been linked to a possible signing of Evander Kane for weeks now. Among other things, the starts and stops of Kane’s availability allowed the Oilers to flip through various reviews and change their minds.
Clearly, general manager Ken Holland and the Oilers organization remained committed to signing Evander Kane. Kevin Weekes tweeted for the first time possible details of the prorated contract the Oilers sign Kane for:
**Breaking News** Sources tell me Evander Kane and @EdmontonOilers have agreed to a verbal deal in place that pays around him 2M AAV on a prorated basis, including 625K SB with a full No Move. @espn @NHLNetwork @NHL @TSNHockey #HockeyTwitter
— Kevin Weekes (@KevinWeekes) January 27, 2022
Once signed, #LetsGoOilers One-year deal with Evander Kane:
625K signing bonus
Base salary 750K
Actual cash paid $974,000
Due to in-season signing prorated split with SB, Cap Hit/AAV is $2.094 million
Full No Movement Clause
—PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) January 27, 2022
Kane’s Agent Dan Milstein confirmed the contract Thursday.
This all comes after the Sharks waived Evander Kane to terminate his contract around January 8. (The NHLPA subsequently filed a grievance on Kane’s behalf.)
Now, it’s important to note that the Oilers weren’t the only team seemingly interested in giving Kane a “second chance.” Earlier this month, TSN’s Darren Dreger felt there may have been around 20 NHL teams that expressed at least some interest. Dreger mentioned continued interest from teams like the Lightning and Panthers.
But the Oilers are the team that signed him. Time will tell if they will reverse that decision and believe it was worth it.
The phrase “second chance” does a lot of work
During a press conference on Tuesday, January 11, Holland dropped a line about giving Evander Kane a chance. Of course, anyone with even a vague recollection of allegations against Evander Kane will realize that he is well beyond his “second” chance.
Consider this thread alone:
Tw sexual assault // dv // evander kane and his chances
2015 – accused of SA
2016 – accused of harassment
2018 – accused of forcing Jane Doe to have an abortion
2021 – charged with domestic violence/battery; betting on games; crossing the border during the protocol; fake vaccination record
— 2022 angy (@uheeuhaha) January 11, 2022
While the NHL moved beyond accusations of betting Kane’s games and couldn’t “substantiate” other allegations, the league suspended him for 21 games due to COVID-19 violations by the NHL (for apparently using a fake vaccination card). Following this, the Sharks decided to terminate his contract due to violations of the AHL COVID-19 protocol.
The NHL has shared the following statement on the latest investigation that has slowed Kane’s return to play.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 27, 2022
Beyond the more serious allegations (and violations of league rules), Evander Kane’s clashes with his teammates go back a long way. From inspiring “Tracksuit Night” in Winnipeg to inciting Sharks teammates to demand his ousting, Kane has also had problems in the locker room.
[MORE: Ken Holland balking at other Oilers changes]
Unsurprisingly, the interest (from the Oilers, the NHL) drew a ton of criticism when it first looked like he would sign a new contract. Yahoo’s Chris Cuthbert wrote that it takes a “special kind of desperation, or arrogance, to sign Evander Kane”. As many, USA Today’s Mary Clarke voiced her opinion that Kane didn’t earn another chance. Even Mark Spector wrote that the Oilers were watching Kane “leaves a lot to be desired.”
Trade is one for one: Evander Kane on what little respect the Oilers had left
—Charlie Conway (@CConway96) January 27, 2022
But, compared to his previous cap of $7 million, Kane signed with the Oilers for relatively cheap. Their season is out of control and Kane has scored 22, 26 and 30 goals over the past three seasons.
Probing further, Kane brings other things to the table, although he also tends to take penalties.
Evander Kane, who reportedly signed with EDM for around $1x2m, is a winger who can play in any situation. Talented at carrying the puck and attacking quickly, but prone to turnovers and minor penalties. #LetsGoOilers pic.twitter.com/6AonbeH9fd
—JFresh (@JFreshHockey) January 27, 2022
Maybe the Oilers will try to turn things around with trades and/or coaching changes, but the addition of Evander Kane means they have nothing to give up except a relatively loose change and a spot. on the list. You know, unless you consider all the goodwill the Oilers will lose. (Never out of place, but especially true after several Oilers fans threw their jerseys on the ice after a painful 6-0 loss to the Panthers.)
Would getting those cheap goals — and, the Oilers hope, more wins — be worth going through all that criticism? Ken Holland’s answer seems to be “Yes”.
Really, though, that only reinforces the feeling that Holland and the Oilers are out of ideas.