Evander Kane thanked Edmonton Oilers fans on social media Thursday, two days after the pending unrestricted free agent forward said he’s unsure where he will play next season.
The 30-year-old forward, who signed with the Oilers on Jan. 27 after his contract had been terminated by the San Jose Sharks, had 39 points (22 goals, 17 assists) in 43 regular-season games and scored 13 goals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which lead the NHL, in 15 games. He can become a free agent July 13.
“Thank you to all the fans who supported me this year,” Kane posted on Twitter. “To everyone who doubted me, thank you as well. To my Oilers teammates, I appreciate each and every single one of you for welcoming me in and embracing me in such a genuine way. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to play with such a committed, hardworking and loyal group of men. The Edmonton Oilers are a first class organization with such great staff from top to bottom and I thank them for giving me the opportunity to play for such a historic franchise. To the fans of Edmonton I thank you for treating my family and I with such a kindness and respect.”
Kane, who had success in Edmonton playing with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, likely will test free agency.
“I think moving forward there are obviously a lot of things that factor into a decision,” Kane said Tuesday, one day after the Oilers were swept by the Colorado Avalanche in the best-of-7 Western Conference Final. “I’ve been very happy with my time here. The fans have been phenomenal, the people in the city have been phenomenal, and this has got to be the best organization I’ve played for.”
Oilers general manager Ken Holland on Wednesday said Kane was a great fit but that it could be difficult to sign him under the NHL salary cap.
“Am I interested in bringing him back? Yes,” Holland said. “I think he had a big impact on our team, not only his ability to score goals, but he plays with an edge. There was wonderful chemistry between him and Connor. When he joined our team, he made our team deeper. So can I keep him? Yeah. His cap number is $2 million. I don’t expect him to play for a $2 million cap number next year. I don’t know what it is. I’d have to sit and talk to his agent Dan Milstein.”
Kane was placed on unconditional waivers by the Sharks on Jan. 8 with the intention of terminating his contract “for breach of his NHL standard player contract and for violation of the AHL COVID-19 protocols.”
He was in the fourth season of a seven-year contract he signed with San Jose on May 24, 2018, but did not play for the Sharks this season. He was suspended by the NHL for 21 games on Oct. 18 for violating NHL COVID-19 protocol, cleared waivers and was assigned to San Jose of the American Hockey League on Nov. 29. He had eight points (two goals, six assists) in five games before entering American Hockey League COVID-19 protocol Dec. 22.
While in the AHL he crossed the border into Canada, which was investigated by the NHL for a possible COVID-19 protocol violation. There was insufficient evidence and Kane became an unrestricted free agent after the Sharks terminated his contract.
Several teams were interested in signing Kane, who ultimately chose the Oilers.
“I thought it went really well, probably even better than I expected to be honest, so nothing but good things to say on that,” Kane said.
Kane said he intends to sign with the team that is the best fit for him.
“I’ll go back to when I was in a similar but very different situation a few months ago where I had the opportunity to kind of pick where I wanted to go,” Kane said. “Edmonton was interested in me and I was interested in them. The way I looked at it is you’ve got two of the best players in the world on a team that wants to win now and is primed to win now.”
Selected by the Atlanta Thrashers with the No. 4 pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, Kane has 545 points (286 goals, 259 assists) in 812 regular-season games for the Thrashers, Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres, Sharks and Oilers, and 30 points (19 goals, 11 assists) in 44 postseason games.
He has scored at least 20 goals in each of the past seven seasons.
“I have no complaints, and just like everybody else I’m sure, I’m just looking forward to seeing what happens,” Kane said.
NHL.com staff writer Tim Campbell contributed to this report