SEATTLE — Evander Kane stressed the importance of what it means to be a volume shooter with the great irony being that he only needed just three shots for a hat trick.
“It’s nice to help contribute to an important win, obviously,” said Kane, who scored three times Nov. 1 in a 7-4 win against the Nashville Predators, as well. “It’s big points with the division so tight. I’ve been in and out of the lineup with injuries all year, so just trying to get into some rhythm heading into the playoffs and tonight definitely did that.”
What makes seeing Kane’s latest exploits potentially promising for the Oilers is the context it provides. Kane indeed has endured an injury-riddled season that began with him missing more than nine weeks after his wrist was deeply cut by a skate blade in November only to return in January before sustaining another injury in February that kept him sidelined until March 9.
Kane’s first goal was a wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle that beat Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who left the game in the second period with a non-COVID illness, on the Oilers’ first shot of the game.
His second goal was a by-product of a loose puck recovered by Oilers captain Connor McDavid, who fed a centering, cross-ice pass that Kane converted on a one-timer for a 3-1 lead with 19:17 left in the second period.
The Kraken rallied to cut the lead to 4-3 until the third period when Kane flew down the left side of the ice and fired another wrist shot that sailed over the glove of Kraken goalie Martin Jones for a 5-3 advantage with 9:40 remaining in the game.
“It’s just about getting opportunities and putting myself in position to get pucks — shooting the puck more, “Kane said. “I only had three shots tonight. I’m a volume shooter and getting more shots gives you a better opportunity to get more pucks in the net.”
Part of what makes the Oilers one of the challengers to win the Western Conference is that they lead the NHL with 3.91 goals per game. It’s an attack that’s led by McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who are first and second in scoring. Yet one of the details that can possibly make the Oilers even more formidable is when they can tap into their players such as Kane, an eight-time 20-goal scorer who came into this season with four straight campaigns of more than 20 goals.
Injuries are why Kane has been held to just 13 goals and 24 points in 29 games. But the idea the Oilers have another top-six forward who is averaging 0.83 points per contest in addition to what they have received from others such as Zach Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins adds to the belief they could be one of the more dangerous teams to face once the postseason starts.
“Happy for him. He’s a warrior. He plays through injuries,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said. “He’s just getting up and running again because of his injuries and it’s been a start-stop season for him. But he’s been all around the puck in any game that he’s played and for three of them to go in tonight, I was happy.”
Then there’s what this latest win means for the Oilers in terms of playoff seeding in what has been a rather chaotic Western Conference landscape. Any team that is either occupying a playoff spot or is trying to chase one down knows how quickly the dynamic can change.
A team that can lead their division or the conference one week could be in a wild-card spot barely seven days later because the margins are that tight.
Entering Saturday, the Kraken and Oilers were separated by a single point with the Oilers holding onto the third Pacific Division playoff spot while the Kraken had one of the West’s two wild-card openings.
Kane’s efforts mean the Oilers have won seven of their past 10 games to build what is now a three-point edge ahead of the Kraken while being four points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the division lead and the best record in the conference.
“What we do in Edmonton is we try to focus on our daily process,” Woodcroft said. “We don’t standings watch; we don’t tie ourselves in knots with who won last night and who didn’t win and what that means for us. We just want to be the best we can be that day and take care of that day’s business. I think by having that type of mindset, you don’t spend a lot of energy worrying about things beyond your control.
“You worry about what is in control and tonight, our job or task was to get two points in a tough building and we were able to do that.”
Sources: MAC votes to accept UMass as member
The University of Massachusetts is set to join the MAC in all applicable sports for the 2025-26 school year, sources told ESPN on Monday.
UMass is an independent in football but plays in the Atlantic-10 in basketball and the vast majority of the school’s other sports. UMass’ hockey program will remain in the Hockey East as the MAC does not have a hockey league.
The MAC presidents voted to invite UMass on Monday, as the school had already formally applied to the league. The timing of an announcement is not known, but UMass is set to accept and finalize the details of the arrangement in the near future. Once a school formally applies in conference realignment, there’s usually an understanding that they will be accepted and enter that league.
UMass had also been engaged with Conference USA, per sources. Ultimately, the MAC made more geographic sense, and it also houses more of the sports that UMass offers. UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford made clear in recent comments that joining a league was a priority for UMass.
The move of UMass to the MAC will leave Notre Dame and Connecticut as the lone independents in college football, with Army set to join the American Athletic Conference in the upcoming season.
In basketball, the news is a jolt to the Atlantic 10 Conference, where UMass has had a home since 1976. UMass’ Final Four appearance in 1996 is the only Final Four appearance in Atlantic 10 history. (Three other A-10 teams — VCU, Loyola Chicago and George Mason — have had Final Four appearances, but these all came prior to joining the league.)
UMass will request to stay in the Atlantic 10 as an affiliate member for men’s and women’s lacrosse only, according to a source.
UMass has some familiarity in the MAC for football, having played four seasons in the league from 2012 to 2015. UMass eventually declined full membership in the MAC, which was part of the contract, and led to the school’s departure.
The move brings the MAC up to 13 teams and will open speculation as to whether the league will add a 14th member for balance. There had been discussions about Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky back in 2021, per sources, and those schools would again top any speculative lists.
UMass will play its final season as a football independent this year, and its schedule includes five current MAC members. The Athletic first reported the MAC’s vote on UMass.
Dodgers trade Margot to Twins, add Hernández
After shopping Margot, 29, in recent days, the Dodgers struck a deal to send the Twins the outfielder and shortstop prospect Rayne Doncon for shortstop prospect Noah Miller. The Dodgers also will send cash to help cover the $12 million owed Margot — $10 million this year and a $2 million buyout on a $12 million club option, a source told ESPN.
Hernández, who emerged during a six-year stint with the Dodgers and returned to Los Angeles in a trade last July, had considered a number of other teams before the trade paved the way for another stretch with the Dodgers.
Now 32, Hernández underwent double hernia surgery in the offseason but is expected to be ready around opening day. Hernández hit .262/.308/.423 in 54 games with the Dodgers last year, more in line with his career numbers than his .222/.279/.320 line with the Twins and .222/.291/.338 showing in an injury-pocked 2022 with Boston.
Margot, an eight-year veteran, had been traded to the Dodgers with right-hander Tyler Glasnow in December. He will help relieve Byron Buxton in center and joins a reigning American League Central champion lineup that is deep in bats. Margot hit .264/.310/.376 with four home runs in 336 plate appearances for Tampa Bay last season and is regarded as a slightly above-average defensive center fielder.
The swap of shortstop prospects sends Doncon, who signed with the Dodgers for a little under $500,000 in January 2021, to Minnesota while Miller, the 36th pick in the amateur draft that year, heads to Los Angeles.
Doncon, 20, hit .216/.283/.368 in Low-A last year and can also play second and third base. Miller, 21, slashed .223/.309/.340 in High-A and is considered a well-above-average defensive shortstop.
Sources: Iowa State to promote Mouser to OC
Iowa State is set to promote Taylor Mouser to offensive coordinator, part of several staff moves for the offense after Nate Scheelhaase left for the NFL, sources told ESPN on Monday.
Mouser has served as Iowa State’s tight ends coach since 2021 and added an assistant head coach title in 2023. He has been part of coach Matt Campbell’s staff in various roles, on and off the field, throughout Campbell’s tenure with the Cyclones.
Mouser will replace Scheelhaase, ISU’s offensive coordinator in 2023, who recently left to become the passing game specialist for the Los Angeles Rams.
Iowa State also is set to hire Tyler Roehl as running backs coach and assistant head coach, sources told ESPN. Roehl spent the past five seasons as North Dakota State‘s offensive coordinator and was the top internal candidate for NDSU’s head-coaching role. He recently left to become offensive coordinator at Tennessee State.
Jake Waters, who last week was promoted to running backs coach, instead is set to handle the quarterbacks, according to a source. Wide receivers coach Noah Pauley will serve as ISU’s pass game coordinator, and offensive line coach Ryan Clanton will be run game coordinator for the 2024 season.
Mouser served as a graduate assistant under Campbell at Toledo (2015) and Iowa State (2016) before becoming ISU’s assistant director of scouting.
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