EDMONTON, Alta. – Evander KaneThe Oilers’ performance has its teammates ready for the recall.
The winger signed with the Blue & Orange for the next four seasons the day before the start of the NHL Free Agency, much to the delight of those who got to play with him.
“Bringing him back into the fold is really exciting. It was kind of a touch and go a bit, but getting him back is exciting for the team and me personally. I really enjoyed playing with him,” Connor McDavid said on Monday Zach Hyman Celebrity Golf Classic in Toronto. “He does a lot for us on the ice. He brings a lot of elements to his game that we’ve been looking for in a top-six role for a long time. He’s a great body, he plays physically and brings a bit of emotion and swagger. He is fine. “
Kane’s return has many Oilers players excited about next season’s prospects, and it’s not hard to see why. Prior to Kane’s arrival, the Oilers were 21-16-2 and had won just five of their previous 18 games. After his signing on Jan. 28, the Oilers went 28-11-4 en route to their second 100-point season in 35 years, with the 104-point production the highest mark of any Oilers team since 1987.
Video: RAW | Connor McDavid 07.25.22
Although Kane had to adjust to a new team and hadn’t played a professional game in over eight months, the power winger still put up 39 points (22G, 17A) in just 43 games.
“Everyone has seen his importance and what he can do on the ice. Bringing back a guy like him who is able to contribute the way he does is hugely important. Zach Hyman said about Kane’s impact.
Although the regular season performance was impressive, Kane’s tracking was even better. The 30-year-old entered the playoffs with just six career playoff goals in 29 games. By the end of the Oilers run, Kane would have more than doubled his career totals — tying Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon for the postseason scoring lead with 13 goals in just 15 games, including a pair of hat tricks.
“He stepped in and played good hockey for us. He’s another one of those really good competitors who, when the weather was great, he scored big goals to help us extend our playoff run. It’s great to have him back. Nurse Darnell said. “His ability to show up every day and work, he fits in really well in our group. It’s really exciting to see him back for a longer period and I hope he feels the same.”
Video: RAW | Nurse Darnell 07.25.22
Now with a four-year contract in tow and a taste of the playoffs, the Oilers are hoping Kane can be another part of a core in hopes of reaching greater heights next season.
“We’ve worked very hard to get into the last four and there’s still a whole other level to go. It was an eye opener for our group,” McDavid said of the post-season run. “To see the level at which Colorado, Tampa and those types of teams performed. It was a whole different speed that we have to get to.”
“I think if you get complacent and say we’ve been there once that we can go back, you’re falling into a hole and that’s dangerous,” Nurse added. “We’re hungry to come back, we know there’s a whole other level of work we need to get there.”
Video: [email protected], Gm1: Kane scores a breakaway goal
The NHL offseason can always bring a roster shake-up. Although the Oilers will be without the services of Duncan Keith after his retirement in July, with the re-signing of Kane and the defenseman Brett Kulakthe Oilers are currently bringing back much of the same roster that led the team to the Western Conference Finals.
Now, with a full season of Kane, Kulak and head coach Jay Woodcroft on the horizon, there’s plenty of optimism about what this core group is capable of next season. The vote of confidence in this core by general manager and president of hockey operations, Ken Holland, was definitely felt by those in the locker room.
“He believes in our squad and our players and that showed throughout the season last year,” Nurse said. “So that he doesn’t blow it up and tinker just adding a few pieces, you just want to go out there and play for him. It will be good to go out there and try to prove ourselves again. “