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Not Enough Slack In The Line

Dream big, but there’s no way they can afford this one.

Vegas Golden Knights v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

A trip to the Western Conference Finals can do wonders for your psyche. The window is open. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl shot the lights out of the first two rounds until they ran into the eventual Stanley Cup Champions from Colorado in the third round. So far, Ken Holland has made strides to keep up the run - he got Evander Kane for a four year deal, and he finally got his goaltender after over a thousand days on the job. He signed Brett Kulak to a nice four year contract, and he’s picked up a utility forward among the mix. So far, so good.

Arbitration looms for two of Edmonton’s forwards; both right wings. Depending on what happens with Jesse Puljujärvi and Kailer Yamamoto, the Oilers could have anywhere between zero and two right wings signed over the next few weeks. The Oilers are right back up against the cap ceiling after a good offseason. No matter what happens, they’re going to have to address what the right wing looks like in the coming weeks.

Online punters suggest that the Oilers are the favourites to land superstar Patrick Kane should he be moved from the Blackhawks (+300). It sounds great, because it always sounds great when you’re adding a player who scored 92 points in his age 33 season. Patrick Kane’s won the Stanley Cup three times over fifteen years with Chicago, and he’d make some noise in the top six as a member of the Oilers.

The ask for Patrick Kane would almost certainly be prohibitive. Kane put up 92 points last season and will score his 1200th career point next season. Even though he’s going to be 34 years of age next season, a trade for Patrick Kane would involve multiple parts going back. If the cost to acquire Patrick Kane was a couple of stars with decent-sized cap hits and a couple of firsts, I’d hope the Oilers would pull back from the brink.

Even if the ask was something reasonable, the Oilers would be getting a player for the last year of his deal that comes with a 10.5MM cap hit. The Oilers would absolutely need Chicago to hold half of that number, and likely get some help from another team to hold half of the 5.25MM that remained. Anything could happen, but I’m not sure Ken Holland gets that wild. With the Oilers almost certainly heading into LTIR relief in the coming weeks, it’s hard to justify ten million in cap space for one year of a superstar player. After the 2022-23 season, Kane becomes an unrestricted free agent who can sign anywhere he pleases.

Patrick Kane has a NMC - he’d need to waive it to come to Edmonton. While the Oilers took a giant step forward last season reaching the Conference Finals, Patrick Kane would need to approve any trade to the Oilers. Maybe last season showed the rest of the NHL that the Oilers hope to continue the push to the Cup. Is it enough to move a superstar from the only NHL city he’s ever played in?

The Oilers already have a couple of irons in the fire with Jesse Puljujärvi and Kailer Yamamoto waiting on arbitration hearings. Neither of these players are Patrick Kane, but neither will make even half of what Patrick Kane will make in the last year of his deal prior to becoming an unrestricted free agent. If Patrick Kane joins a new club in 2022-23, it’s almost a lock that his new club will have paid through the ceiling in order to acquire him .

The Oilers need to lock down their two right wings, and then add another right wing in free agency. (They should also lock down Ryan McLeod, but that’s another discussion altogether). Patrick Kane might find his way out of Chicago prior to the start of the 2022-23 season, but the Oilers would do well to not entertain anything fancy in order to swing a deal.

Fortunately for Oiler fans, I don’t think Ken Holland would push that many chips into the pot.