Oilers have major hurdles to overcome to bring back Evander Kane
Despite early scepticism due to off-ice concerns, the Edmonton Oilers' signing of Evander Kane proved excellent.
The 30-year-old scored 22 goals in 43 regular season games after joining in January. He added 13 in 15 postseason games.
His goal-scoring skill and physical presence offered the Oilers a missing ingredient. Ken Holland wants to keep him, which isn't surprising.
The Oilers general manager hopes to re-sign Kane, an unrestricted free agent this summer. Holland lacks cap space, so bringing back the goal-scorer will be difficult, if not impossible.
The Oilers have just over $7 million in expected cap space coming into this offseason for their 15 contracted skaters. They'll need to recruit some cheap depth players and have expressed interest in bringing back Brett Kulak
who made under $2 million on his previous deal.
Goaltending must be improved. This team's Achilles' heel was Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen. Koskinen's $4.5 million agreement is off the books, and Smith hinted at retirement during his end-of-season media availability.
f Smith retires, 23-year-old Stuart Skinner will almost certainly make the lineup next season. Holland would need to trade for or sign a goalkeeper to partner alongside Skinner.
Ville Husso of the St. Louis Blues may make $4 million per year, or Jack Campbell of the Toronto Maple Leafs could get $5 million. If Holland goes this route, it will eat up his minimal cap space.
Kane might earn $7 million each year. Yes, his off-ice behaviour could deter teams, but natural goal scorers like him are rare. In 99 games over two seasons, he scored 44 goals and 88 points. Teams will gamble on such production in free agency.