The Oilers signed 29 year old defender Andrej Sekera to a six-year deal worth $5.5/season and centre Mark Letestu to a three-year pact at $1.8 million/year.
Sekera essentially replaces Jeff Petry, except he shoots left. He can play the right side if needed, and he might start there, or they could pair him with Mark Fayne and be the Oilers shut down defence pairing.
Sekera hasn’t put up big offensive totals except when he scored 44 points with Carolina in 2013/2014, with 15 of them coming on the PP. He was given an opportunity on the PP and produced, but he still scored more ES points that year than he had in any other by a significant margin. He could be a solid 2nd pairing PP option.
He is good in his own zone, and his reputation is that he plays hard and is a professional. He will be in great shape. He plays tough minutes and has good possession numbers. This is a solid signing, but it has risks as he is on overpay and six years is a lifetime for an older defenceman. Term is often what crushes you in free agency.
Letestu’s cap hit saves the Oilers $1.2 million for their 4th line centre. Boyd Gordon was traded to Arizona yesterday and was making $3 million. Letestu is good in the faceoff, 52.9% last year, but he has much more offensive upside than Gordon. He can play in the top nine and even on the PP.
Letestu was never drafted, and was actually playing junior B at 17. He went to the AJHL and didn’t receive an NCAA scholarship until he was 20. He was a late bloomer.
after his first NHL season with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
ANOTHER MOVE COMING?
The Oilers now have nine defenceman, and I’m sure Chiarelli will try to move Nikita Nikitin. He will have to eat close to 50% of his salary, I’m sure, but it will be worth it.
There will be a healthy battle at training camp and into the season between Darnell Nurse, Griffin Reinhart, Andrew Ference, Justin Schultz and Eric Gryba for icetime and a spot on the roster. It has been a long time since the Oilers had a real competition for playing time.
Peter Chiarelli has added seven new players to the team since he took over. Sekera, Letestu, Connor McDavid, Cam Talbot, Eric Gryba, Lauri Korpikoski and Griffin Reinhart. I expect we will see him make another four or five additions before the start of next season.
Thoughts on the signings?
Recently by Jason Gregor:
- Oilers trade Boyd Gordon
- Free agents who could help the Oilers
- Oilers draft recap
- Oilers trade Marincin, acquire Gryba
- Trade talk, goalies and Chiarelli
- PWHA voting, schedule, goalies and more