Oilers GM defends Evander Kane signing: ‘I’ve done my due diligence’

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Ken Holland told us two weeks ago that his intentions for turning the Oilers around didn’t involve making a big trade, let alone giving up a high-end prospect for a rental at the NHL Trade Deadline.

So that’s why the Evander Kane signing makes sense for him. He didn’t have to give up an asset for a player who’s scored 78 goals over the last three seasons, and it cost Edmonton little in salary.

In defending the move on Friday, Holland said he reached to to many in the hockey world about Kane, including the team’s leadership group. He didn’t see any problems with bringing in a player with his kind of reputation.

“I think my message to the fans would be I’ve done my due diligence,” said Holland. “I’ve talked to a lot of people. … Certainly we’re trying to win, trying to be a more competitive team. It’s a move made to make our team better. … Like Evander said…Evander is 30. He’s been through a lot of experiences in his life, and I believe there’s another opportunity here that can be a positive experience for all of us, for the fans, for Evander, and the Edmonton Oilers.”

[MORE: Desperate Oilers decide signing Evander Kane is worth the risk]

But the cheap cost comes with baggage. We all know Kane’s history and why he’s a risk to bring into the Oilers’ dressing room. But Holland is desperate. He’s not firing Dave Tippett, which will continue his streak as a GM of never dismissing a coach in-season. He’s not making a big trade — at least yet. This is the move for now. If it works, then it’s a winning lottery ticket in his mind. If it fails? Then it’ll be another bullet point in Kane’s long resume and possibly the end of Holland’s reign in Edmonton with the team sitting just outside the Western Conference playoff picture.

Unapologetic Kane

Kane is expected to be in the Edmonton lineup on Saturday when they visit Montreal. We’ll see how he fits in in the Oilers’ room over time, but reported incidents during his stops in San Jose and Winnipeg paint a picture of someone who was not a good teammate.

Kane refuted the idea he wasn’t a good presence in the room.

“There are certain things that have happened, the majority of them outside of hockey, that have obviously been well-documented, whether they’re accurate or inaccurate,” he said. “For me, I take responsibility for things I’ve done wrong, but I’m definitely not going to take any responsibility for things that I haven’t done. … I’m not sitting here saying that I’m perfect. I think for me, it’s part of life, making mistakes, living and learning from them.”

What can he bring to the Oilers?

“I view myself as a leader,” he said. “It’s funny that people think I’m going to come in and I’m just some kid on the playground that’s going to disrupt everything and that’s just not the case. I’ve had a lot of experience on and off the ice. I’ve been in this league a long time. And I try to share those experiences with guys on the team, and try to prevent them from making those same mistakes that I have.

“For me, I look at it as I’m an experienced guy coming in. I’m looking to add to the group in a positive way and I’m really excited about the opportunity. I think it’s really great.”

Connor McDavid said Thursday night the players trust Holland’s decision making in constructing a winning roster. Everyone in Edmonton is desperate right now and if this move backfires, it’ll begin yet another cycle of change in Edmonton.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.