The Edmonton Oilers have now played four games without Evander Kane in the lineup since the injury, which has given the coaching staff a little time to test out different players in more significant roles. Though it may seem all bad for the Oilers to lose someone of Kane’s calibre, it could be better in the long run for the team and a number of players. A spot in the top six provides inner competition for playing time, confidence, and production boosts for certain players and certain trade candidates, potentially raising their trade value. Let’s dive in.
Inner Competition Pushing Oilers’ Role Players
Whenever a player that holds a permanent spot in the top-six exits the lineup due to injury or other reasons, there is always an opportunity for any bottom-six player. The Oilers have a number of options they’ve not only tried but are fighting hard to keep any playing time and opportunity that may be up for grabs. Four players, in particular, have gotten chances, not only on the Oilers but higher in the lineup.
Mattias Janmark and Klim Kostin were called up when Kane was placed on long-term injured reserve. The cap space allowed the Oilers to replace one player with two. Both deserve to be in the NHL and have the skill set to succeed. Both have done just that. Janmark quickly went from playing in the AHL due to the cap situation in Edmonton to playing on the top line beside Connor McDavid. He has now been there for a few games, showing that he’s earned his role in the top six and on a scoring line despite no points in two games. His ice time jumped from around 11 minutes in the first two games since his recall to an average of 16:30. He played nearly 18 minutes in the Oilers’ win over the Vegas Golden Knights.
Kostin has always had the ability since he was drafted with the St. Louis Blues and the Oilers knew that when they traded for him. With the first opportunity to call him up, he immediately slotted in on the third line and has shown he can be a good power forward in the NHL. He has gotten chances and made some big hits. His size and physicality has somewhat made up for Kane being out of the lineup and allowed the third line to have more possession time in the offensive zone. He is definitely making a case to stick around with the Oilers even after Kane’s return in a few months.