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Edmonton Oilers’ interest in Evander Kane is a sign of GM Ken Holland’s desperation

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The following is an excerpt from the daily newsletter of Postmedia National Hockey Writer Michael Traikos. Subscribe to Traik-eotomy at torontosun.com/newsletters:

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As of Wednesday afternoon, Evander Kane had yet to sign a contract with a new team. But according to various reports, the Edmonton Oilers are believed to be the favorites for a player whose contract was terminated in San Jose for violating COVID-19 protocols.

It justifiably angers a lot of fans, while also raising questions about second chances and putting wins above all else.

To sum up, this isn’t the first time Kane has been in hot water. He’s been charged with domestic assault, betting on NHL games he’s played – neither has been proven – and cut ties with former teammates in San. Jose, Buffalo and Winnipeg, the latter having thrown his clothes in the shower.

So why would the Oilers be interested?

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Well, to put it simply, because they’re desperate.

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The Oilers wouldn’t try to sign Kane if they came in first in the Pacific Division. But they are not in the first place. They are stuck in sixth place, three points behind San Jose for the last wild card spot. They have to do something – anything – to get back into a playoff berth, even if that means making a deal with someone who carries more baggage than a Sherpa on Mount Everest.

After all, when you have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on your roster, you owe it to them to be a Stanley Cup contender every year. At the very least, you have to make the playoffs.

Oilers general manager Ken Holland acknowledges this. While Edmonton has made the playoffs in each of the last two years he’s worked, he understands that when you have the top two players in the league, the bar should be higher than just squeezing into a spot. in the playoffs.

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We are talking about two perennial MVPs. Two players who make their way to the Hall of Fame when all is said and done. Two players who have lost the flower of their career in a team that keeps spinning its tires.

By the time Sidney Crosby was McDavid’s age, he and Evgeni Malkin had already reached the Stanley Cup final twice, having won the first of their three championships. McDavid and Draisaitl didn’t even reach the third round.

Holland, who oversaw a dynasty in Detroit, owes them both to make sure they don’t waste any more.

So he’s ready to give a boost to a player whose addition could explode in Edmonton’s face. It’s not like he has a lot of other options available to him.

Holland said he was not firing the head coach. And he’s not interested in giving up more prospects at maturity for a rental player. At the same time, he cannot stand and does nothing.

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Come in, Kane.

The 30-year-old forward may not be what the Oilers need right now (unless, of course, Kane can strap on the pads and stop the puck). But at its price (somewhere under $ 2 million) and length (one year), it can still be a valuable addition for a team with more than one hole to fill.

Kane, who scored 22 goals and 49 points in 56 games for the Sharks last season, gives you scoring depth. It also gives you courage.

You can put it online with McDavid. Or you can put it with Draisaitl, allowing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to center the third row. Wherever you put it, it makes Edmonton better on the ice.

That is, as long as it does not disturb things outside the rink.

It is danger that brings Kane. There’s a reason it’s available at such a low price, why so many teams (Toronto, for example) rejected the tires on its availability and chose to walk away.

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There is a risk. But there is the potential for a huge payoff.

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“When the situation doesn’t work elsewhere, to give someone an opportunity, do I believe in it? Holland said yesterday. “The answer is yes.”

It’s not just a second (or third, fourth, or fifth) chance for Kane. With everything that has gone wrong since Holland took power in Edmonton, this is also a second chance for Holland.

It hasn’t been an easy tenure for the Hall of Fame CEO. The man who apparently had the Midas touch in Detroit didn’t have the same level of luck in his three years with the Oilers.

Some of it was out of his control.

Holland did not support reconstruction. He took over a house with hoarders living in it. Yes, he inherited a list with McDavid and Drasaitl. But he also inherited a financial situation that severely handcuffed what he could and couldn’t do.

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And yet, he didn’t make his life easy. Some of his decisions, like signing Cody This, trading for Duncan Keith and not improving the goalie position, made Edmonton worse. Even signing Zach Hyman was a curious move for a team with significant ceiling issues.

In other words, the Netherlands need a home run more than another strikeout.

While other teams are interested in Kane – like Tampa Bay, Florida and Carolina – none of them are in the precarious position like Edmonton is. If the Oilers sign it and it doesn’t work, Holland will be blamed.

And unlike Kane, it’s unclear if Holland will get a second chance to right another mistake.

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