Edmonton Oilers

Oilers Sunday Census: In the absence of Evander Kane, who would you like to see get a shot at his role on the top line?

Evander Kane was seen in full equipment and skating last Saturday; this was exciting and surprising to see, considering his injury happened less than a month ago. Obviously, there is still a long way to go before he is back in the Edmonton Oilers lineup, but it is great to see that he was able to get back on the ice so soon.

Kane has been absent from the Edmonton Oilers lineup since he suffered a scary cut to his wrist on November 8 against the Tampa Bay Lighting; since then, the Oilers have been playing Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on the top line together. Although the team has performed well since Jay Woodcroft reunited them, winning 11 of their last 18 games, most fans agree that in the long term, it’s best to have McDavid and Draisaitl on different lines to add depth to the centre position down the lineup.

With Kane out of the lineup for at least a couple more months, who would you like to see get a shot at his role on the top line?

We asked, you answered. Let’s take a look!

Want to take part in Sunday Census polls? We send them out every week on our Twitter at @oilrigEDM. Follow along or send in ideas for the next poll!

Klim Kostin

Klim Kostin is a former first-round pick by the St. Louis Blues. He was acquired by the Edmonton Oilers from the Blues in a one-for-one trade which had Oilers defenceman Dmitri Samorukov going the other way. Kostin was then assigned to the AHL, where he put up two goals and four points in nine games before being called up by the Oilers on November 9 after the Kane injury.

Since his call-up to the NHL, Kostin has scored two goals and four points in 12 games. His physical play on the ice is one of his greatest assets which was an aspect that was lacking when they lost Kane to injury. Kostin has complemented the bottom six and has been a driving force with his power-forward style of play on a line with Derek Ryan and Devin Shore.

About a third of poll voters would like to see Kostin get a shot playing in Kane’s spot on the top line with McDavid, and this is understandable considering his physical style of play and willingness to protect himself and his teammates. It would be interesting to see if he can keep up with McDavid’s fast-paced play while also capitalizing on the opportunities he will get when playing one the top line.

James Hamblin

James Hamblin never made it to the NHL draft but was signed by the Oilers to an AHL contract in 2019–20. He was born and raised in Edmonton, and played with current teammates Stuart Skinner and Tyler Benson at the South Side Athletic Club in Edmonton.

During his time in the AHL this season, Hamblin scored three goals and nine points in 15 games before being called up to the NHL after Warren Foegele and Ryan McLeod were injured on the same shift against the New York Rangers on November 26. Hamblin made his NHL debut with the Oilers the following game against the Florida Panthers; Edmonton won that game 4–3 in overtime.

Since his call up, he has not scored any points in six of the games he has played but has made notable contributions defensively and has been impressive in the face-off circle with a win percentage of 58.3 and 66.7 against Arizona on Wednesday and Minnesota on Friday.

4% of poll voters would like to see him get a shot on the top line with McDavid in the absence of Kane. Although Hamblin has shown some promise on the defensive side of the puck, most fans would agree with only six games under his belt in the NHL, he’s not ready for top-line competition currently.

Dylan Holloway

Oilers former 2020 first-round pick Dylan Holloway had an incredible 2022 preseason, scoring four goals and six points in four games, including a hat-trick.

Since the start of the season, Holloway has had his struggles adjusting to the NHL regular season scoring only one goal and four points in 21 games. This is understandable as it is a big jump from the university and AHL level to the national level, but recently Holloway has been finding some chemistry with his former teammate Hamblin and Jesse Puljujarvi. Although the line has not scored yet, they have been holding their own defensively and getting offensive chances.

61% of poll voters would like to see Holloway get another shot playing on the top line with McDavid in the absence of Kane. This makes sense as Holloway is a fast and skilled player who can keep up with McDavid. However, he seems to struggle with positioning and understanding what he can and can’t get away with doing when playing top-level competition.

Mattias Janmark

Mattias Janmark was a former third-round draft pick in 2013; since then, he has bounced around a few teams but played most of his career for the Dallas Stars and The Vegas Golden Knights. The Oilers Signed Janmark to a $1.25M per year deal over the offseason with the hopes of shoring up the bottom six.

Since signing the deal, Janmark started the season playing in the AHL, where he scored two goals and four points in four games before being called back up to the NHL where he played a third/fourth line role until recently playing on the second line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins after the Kane injury. Since the call-up, Janmark has scored one goal and three points during the 14 games he has played.

An extremely small portion of poll voters would like to see Janmark on the top line with McDavid in the absence of Kane. Although the offensive numbers are not excellent, Janmark has brought great energy to his role in the bottom nine; and recently, Woodcroft has been utilizing him on the penalty kill, where he has seen success. With only 1% of the poll voting, it’s clear that most fans think his skill set is better utilized in the bottom nine.

That’s a wrap

Thank you to everyone who took part in the poll, stay tuned for next week’s Sunday Census!

Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire

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