Oilers: Evander Kane and Zach Hyman Have Changed Everything

Edmonton Oilers Celebrate Goal. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Edmonton Oilers Celebrate Goal. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

In the Oilers’ bitter defeat at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets last spring, players not named Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl managed to score 5 goals in four games for Edmonton. This postseason so far the Oilers have gotten 12 such goals in just three games.

Their scoring throughout the lineup compared to years past has been night and day, with one reason being the new systems put in place and smarter deployment of players by new Head Coach Jay Woodcroft. As far as player personnel goes, however, Zach Hyman and Evander Kane have been the primary engines for transforming this team into a winner.

Evander Kane

On April 5, 2022, Ken Holland made a bold move by signing Evander Kane to a one-year deal worth $2m AAV against the salary cap. Kane had dealt with several off-ice issues over the past year including filing for bankruptcy, a 21-game suspension for violating the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols, and a public and messy divorce with his now ex-wife Anna.

After having his contract terminated by the San Jose Sharks, Kane became a free agent and due to the Oilers’ struggles as well as GM Ken Holland’s past relationship with Evander’s agent Dan Milstein, Kane was a natural fit in Edmonton.

The off-ice issues presented enough risk to bring the cap number down and Kane’s abilities on the ice were well worth the risk of such an acquisition. Kane was already a seven-time 20 goal scorer before landing in Edmonton and his production this season alongside Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl has been nothing short of incredible.

There have been no publicly known issues surrounding Kane since his arrival with the Edmonton Oilers and he has been scoring at a 48 goal pace prorated over 82 games. The Oilers have had some decent complimentary forwards for McDavid and Draisaitl over the past few seasons such as RNH, Jesse Puljujarvi, and Kailer Yamamoto. The issue is, they haven’t had a pure goal scorer.

Nugent-Hopkins is most known for his versatility and passing ability, Puljujarvi is an excellent two-way player that helps the Oilers in a lot of ways besides finding the scoresheet but his offensive production is inconsistent, and Yamamoto is another versatile player but he isn’t a consistent scorer.

Evander Kane Provides a proven goal-scoring touch and has the ability to be a physical presence and get under the opponent’s skin to make the Oilers more difficult to play against.

There are some legitimate concerns with signing Kane long-term. Historically, players tend to see a decrease in their production as they enter their 30s, and with Kane turning 31 this summer, a long-term deal could come with diminishing returns. The analytics crowd has also pointed out his scorching hot PDO of 1.31.

PDO is a statistic that adds together a player’s on-ice shooting percentage and on-ice save percentage in an attempt to calculate “puck luck.” Has Kane been getting some friendly bounces? Probably. Will this elite level of production be sustainable over the long term if the Oilers choose to re-sign Kane? Perhaps not. But none of this is relevant for this year’s Edmonton Oilers.

We can speculate on the future and debate the risks of bringing back Kane this summer, as it stands Kane is an incredibly beneficial forward that has completely changed the dynamic of this team and provided Connor McDavid with the most offensively gifted winger of his NHL career.

Zach Hyman

With over $20m in cap space this past summer, it was clear that the Oilers were going to target a big fish in free agency. Free agency is a dangerous time, with teams frequently overpaying players in an effort to make their hockey teams better. When the Oilers signed Hyman, most in Oil Country were pretty positive about the acquisition, even if the seven-year term was a lot to stomach.

So far, Hyman has worked out tremendously, achieving a career-high in goals, assists, and points in 2021-2022. He has unsurprisingly been a fan-favorite in Edmonton thanks to his blue-collar style of play, with a touch of skill reminiscent of Ryan Smyth.

Hyman’s production has been fantastic this season at even strength. His 1.04 5v5 GF/60 would’ve been second-best on the team in 2020-21 behind only Connor McDavid. He has brought offense to the top-six that wasn’t present before, and his work ethic and positive mindset bring some intangibles to the table as well.


Evander Kane and Zach Hyman have combined for 9 points in just three playoff games, helping jumpstart an offensive explosion to kick off the postseason.

There is a lot of hockey yet to be played in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but the regular season and the first few playoff games have taught us that this Oilers team has much more offensive firepower thanks to their new additions on the wing and behind the bench.

If anyone is able to slow down McDavid, there are still many more weapons to worry about. It’s something we haven’t been able to say in five years.