Kane to make Oilers debut Saturday; GM says he's done 'due diligence'
Evander Kane won't have to wait long to suit up for his new team.
The freshly signed winger will be in the lineup when the Edmonton Oilers face the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, general manager Ken Holland announced during Kane's introductory press conference Friday.
Kane hasn't played in an NHL game this season. The league suspended him for 21 games in October for violating COVID-19 protocol after he allegedly used a fake vaccine card.
After serving his suspension, the San Jose Sharks waived him and sent him to the AHL. The team terminated his contract in early January "for breach of his NHL Standard Player Contract and for violation of AHL COVID-19 protocols."
Despite the recent controversies surrounding the 30-year-old, Holland said he didn't do a lot of "soul-searching" before deciding to bring Kane aboard.
"I think my message to the fans would be that I've done my due diligence," Holland said, adding, "We're trying to win, we're trying to be a more competitive team. It's a move made to make our team better."
He added: "At the end of the day, ultimately being the manager, it's my decision. ... Based upon all the information that I gathered, all the people that I talked to, all the experience that I've had being a manager for 25 years in the National Hockey League ... I felt that today, if we could add Evander, it could be a real positive."
Kane said "quite a few teams" inquired about him early on in the process and he saw an opportunity for himself in Edmonton.
"Right now, today, I'm here. I'm excited to be an Edmonton Oiler," he said. "I'm excited to play with two of the best players in the world, this entire group of guys that have ... got themselves into a great position to make the playoffs."
He added that he isn't too focused on what happened in San Jose. The Sharks reportedly tried to trade him last summer due to his strained relationships with some teammates.
"To say that everybody in the locker room I didn't get along with, that would be just incredibly false," Kane said. "It's less than a handful of guys, but it goes both ways. When there's leaks coming from your dressing room in the media, I wouldn't say that's necessarily a good act of leadership or being a productive teammate."
Holland pointed to the maturity of the Oilers' leaders and "veteran locker room" as factors that could help Kane find more success in Edmonton.
Kane's season debut Saturday is at 7 p.m. ET in Montreal.