Evander Kane: 3 best destinations in 2022 NHL free agency
The Edmonton Oilers scooped up Evander Kane last season amid his tumultuous exit from the San Jose Sharks. Kane played a critical role in the Oilers’ run to the Western Conference Finals, and he’s set himself up for a solid payday in free agency, for any team willing to take the risk on him, considering his off-ice issues.
Kane was a bargain for Edmonton, as his production vastly outweighed the $1.375 million contract he was playing under. His brief stint with the Oilers proved that he is still capable of producing at a high level, even if he is somewhat of a headache to have on the roster.
In 2021-22, Kane featured in 43 games for the Oilers during the regular season. He racked up 22 goals and added 17 assists for a total of 39 points, logging an efficient +25 while on the ice. He followed that up with an electric showing in the playoffs that saw him register 17 points in 16 games, including a playoff-high 13 goals.
After a season like that, there are bound to be teams willing to roll the dice on Kane and give him a shot. Whether or not he gets a long-term contract remains to be seen, but he’ll certainly land on his feet somewhere. The Oilers have minimal cap space to work with and a plethora of free agents to tend to, which could put them out of the running for Kane, though they will likely see what they can do to retain him anyway.
With all that in mind, here are the three best destinations for Evander Kane in 2022 NHL free agency.
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Evander Kane Free Agency Destinations
3. New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Nets were expected to be players in the Kevin Fiala trade market, but ultimately missed out when the Minnesota Wild dealt the 25-year-old to the Los Angeles Kings. Adding a left winger is a priority for the Devils this offseason, so perhaps now that Fiala is no longer available, they’ll set their sights on Kane.
Whether the Devils are willing to give Kane a long-term deal is unclear, but his production in the playoffs has to have fans wondering how he would fare alongside star center Jack Hughes, who is emerging as one of the NHL’s best playmakers. Considering Kane was electric paired with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, having served on both their lines throughout the year, he and Hughes would likely be an elite goalscoring tandem for New Jersey.
2. Washington Capitals
The Capitals are an interesting landing spot for Kane. Their championship window, while already pretty thin, is not going to remain open much longer. It’s obvious that Alexander Ovechkin won’t be leaving the team, so the path forward is clear; continue to compete for the playoffs.
That’s what makes Kane an intriguing fit in Washington. The Capitals could realistically sign him for a few seasons, roughly the length of their championship window, and hope that he’s able to provide a big boost to the offense. If Kane joined on a 2-3 year deal, he would be right in line with the rest of Washington’s core contracts, most of whom are set to hit free agency within the next four seasons.
There were links between Kane and the Capitals before he eventually joined the Oilers, but now that he’s proven himself as a viable top-line left wing, perhaps the interest will re-ignite once free agency opens up.
1. Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers enjoyed Kane’s production at a bargain price, and now they could look to keep him with the team on a new contract. They’ve witnessed firsthand what he can do on a nightly basis, and his production got better during the playoffs. For a team desperate to reach the Stanley Cup, it’d be wise to lock down the guy who just led the playoffs in goals scored.
The decision on Kane will ultimately impact the futures of other Oilers free agents including RFA’s Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, and Ryan McLeod, as well as UFA’s Josh Archibald, Brett Kulak, and Kris Russell. With $7 million in cap space, it’s impossible for Edmonton to re-up with all of its free agents, but of the aforementioned group of players, it’s undeniable that Kane is a cut above the rest. A reunion in Edmonton may be a tough sell for the front office, but considering his production and the team’s dire need for playoff success, it would be well worth it to extend Kane’s stay in Alberta.