First impressions of Evander Kane on Edmonton Oilers? Arrows pointed up

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Evander Kane has three points in his first three games for the Edmonton Oilers.

He’s hitting hard and sticking up for his linemate Connor McDavid.

And he’s got excellent underlying individual analytics, having made major contributions to seven Grade A shots at even strength and just one major mistake on a Grade A shot against.

There’s been plenty to like, even as Kane has been shaking off plenty of rust in this first streak of games.

Here’s how we’ve seen him at the Cult of Hockey in terms of game grades:

vs Montreal, by Bruce McCury Evander Kane, 6: Made an excellent first impression, deflecting home Bouchard’s shot to open the scoring, something the Oilers hadn’t done for a month and a half. Otherwise appeared fairly rusty, not surprising in that he hasn’t played an NHL game all season nor a pro game of any description since mid-December. Did muster 3 shots and 4 hits, one of them of type “borderline” on Nick Suzuki. Made a bad turnover, then got beaten on the counter attack on an odd-man rush that led to a fine Montreal chance. He and McDavid were clearly sizing each other up on a night that neither man was at his instinctive best.

vs Ottawa, by David Staples, Evander Kane, 5: Some good moments. He barged down wing in the first, won the puck, swooped powerfully around the net and set up Yamamoto for a great chance in the first. He also got out on the top Oilers power play. I can’t say I like his work there as he didn’t screen the goalie so much as stood to side and looking for tip shot, a la Milan Lucic. He pounded two Grade A shots on net early in the third, but could not score.

vs Washington, by Bruce McCurdy, Evander Kane, 7: In the middle of the action all night. Scored Edmonton’s second goal on a deft tip-in, and set up the empty-netter with a good outlet pass to RNH. Led both teams with a whopping 7 hits, even as he was on the receiving end of two of the hardest blows of the night. First Hathaway knocked him ass over tea kettle into the Caps bench, skates flailing. Then late in the second he got smoked by Orlov in the open ice and went down the tunnel seemingly favouring a shoulder, but was back for the third seemingly no worse for wear.

How do I see Kane’s game? He’s not one to hold the puck too long. He gets it, controls it, makes a pass or a shot. He’s more of a tipper than a screener in front of the net. He’s aggressive on the forecheck. He’s an OK skater, not super fast, but fast enough. It’s too early for me to have a strong handle on his defensive game, but no glaring shortcomings stand out yet.

Is he a good fit with McDavid? It’s not easy to play with McDavid, a player who dominates the puck. Zach Hyman has done the best of any Oilers forward in this role this year. I still haven’t seen enough to get a good read on Kane with McD, but, again, there’s nothing glaring that suggests this won’t work.

Overall, Kane has made a strong and positive impression on the ice, with him winning me over as a player the moment he went after Washington’s Garnet Hardaway after the player collided with McDavid (the two goals also had me smiling, of course).

Source: EdmontonJournal