The Edmonton Oilers have been one of the most-watched stories in the league this season. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl continue to put up generational scoring numbers. Still, old issues have reared their ugly heads, and the team remains on the fringes of the playoffs as the calendar turns to 2023.
Edmonton has two big dates circled on their calendar over the next weeks: the return of elite power forward Evander Kane to the lineup and the NHL Trade Deadline on March 3.
In terms of making trades, the Oilers are “working the phones” well before the deadline, writes Pierre LeBrun in a piece for The Athletic. LeBrun says Edmonton has been connected to Arizona’s Jakob Chychrun, as well as Montreal’s Joel Edmundson, and about “every selling team you can think of with a defenseman potentially up for grabs.”
With the team’s swath of promising young defensemen, it does seem that adding just one bigger name into the mix could offer Edmonton the ability to optimize their pairings and solidify defensive issues that have plagued them for years.
However, they can’t expect to keep pucks out of the net without goaltending, which is still somewhat of a concern. Jack Campbell still hasn’t been able to figure things out in Edmonton, now completely losing the starting job to Stuart Skinner just months after signing a five-year, $25MM contract. Skinner himself has been passable at worst and lifesaving at best, maintaining a .914 save percentage through 25 starts.
Kane’s return from a horrifying wrist injury could shore up another issue – depth scoring. Edmonton’s fourth-ranked offense in the NHL comes courtesy of McDavid, Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Zach Hyman, who have scored 95 of their 147 goals (a staggering 65%). No other Oilers forward has more than five goals – which is Kane, who’s played in just 14 games.
His return is likely coming this month, meaning his activation (and salary cap implications) remains untouched by any potential deadline trade.
PuckPedia outlined potential scenarios for the cap-strapped Oilers today, which would allow Kane to come off long-term injured reserve. It would be a tricky scenario, requiring them to place defenseman Ryan Murray on LTIR, assigning Devin Shore and Vincent Desharnais to the minors, and sending one more player down who makes more than $1.125MM against the cap. This would likely be Mattias Janmark, who has nine points in 28 games and failed to make the team out of training camp.