Evander Kane will make his long-awaited return to the Oilers lineup, a remarkable ten weeks after he suffered a horrific wrist injury resulting in his hospitalization and emergency surgery early in November.
Per the Oilers lines at practice on Monday, Kane appears as though he’ll begin the game skating alongside Ryan McLeod and Warren Foegele on the third line, though it only seems a matter of time until Kane rejoins Edmonton’s top-six given his spot in the lineup before the injury.
“[I] feel good right now, been itching to get back since three-and-a-half weeks ago,” Kane told reporters after practice on Monday. “It’s been a lot of skating and a lot of practice.”
The Oilers, winners of three straight, will no doubt welcome Kane back with open arms given their up and down season. In his absence, the club went a middling 16-12-3 while tumbling out of the playoff picture at points. Edmonton is currently clinging onto a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
In a corresponding move, Kailer Yamamoto was placed on LTIR with an undisclosed injury and will be able to return following the NHL’s All-Star break in early February.
Kane’s recovery is particularly remarkable given his initial three-to-four-month timeframe. For reference, just three seasons ago, then Maple Leafs forward Ilya Mikheyev missed the remainder of the COVID-shortened 2019-20 season after cutting his wrist in a similar on-ice incident in December, only returning during the Maple Leafs' play-in series against Columbus that summer.
While Kane admits his wrist isn’t at full capacity compared to where it was before, the 31-year-old still shared optimism about his ability to contribute moving forward.
“I think the shooting is where it needs to be successful,” Kane said. “Is it at 100%? No. But I’m coming back with no excuses.”
“I don’t know if it’s ever going to be full strength, at least this season, but I feel it’s as good as it’s going to be for a decent stretch of time here.”
Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft conveyed similar optimism.
“With his return on the horizon and where our team is at, I think it’s a positive,” Woodcroft said. “Any time you can add a player of his calibre, I think that’s a real positive for your organization.”
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