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Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

Evander Kane’s thank-you to fans likely signals his departure. If he’s out, who’s in?

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Edmonton Oilers at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Evander Kane’s latest tweet is a ‘thank you’ to his teammates, the Oilers, and the fans. While he didn’t exactly say he was leaving, the note read like someone that’s already handed in their two week notice.

For Evander Kane, his time with the Oilers will likely translate into one last big contract - at least, that’s what he’s looking for. Kane’s abbreviated tenure with the Oilers saw him pull 39 regular season points in just 43 games (22-17-39). He led the Oilers in playoff goals with 13 in 15 games. He’ll be in demand come July 13th when free agency begins, and the Oilers are nearly capped out already.

Kane’s likely departure will create a hole in the top six, kind of like where we were six summers ago when the OIlers dealt Taylor Hall to the Devils for Adam Larsson. A few notable names stopped by during the time since (Milan Lucic and Patrick Maroon come to mind), but none have stuck around in that spot for too long. Maybe we see Ryan Nugent-Hopkins find his way back to the top line due to the emergence of Ryan McLeod.

JOSH ANDERSON

Montréal’s Josh Anderson has popped up on social media today as a possible fit in Kane’s absence. His contract would likely prohibit this from ever coming to light (5.5MM AAV, 5 years remaining). Anderson (19-13-32, 69 GP) was most often a trio with Nick Suzuki and Christian Dvorak this past season, and while his numbers would likely take a bump up playing on the McDavid line, it’s a giant gamble that the Oilers can’t afford unless a couple contracts are shipped to the Canadiens in return. There might be some interest in Tyson Barrie (4MM, 2 years), but the Oilers will need to move additional cap off the books

The Oilers could promote Zach Hyman to the top line as well. With Dylan Holloway likely becoming a regular roster player in 2022-23, this could either push Warren Foegele up the lineup or Holloway himself could find himself in the top six by the time the next season starts.

With Kailer Yamamoto, Jesse Puljujärvi, Ryan McLeod all needing RFA deals (Brett Kulak needs one too, but he’s UFA) the Oilers will likely need to focus on what’s in-house before venturing too far off the grid. And don’t get me started on the goaltending.