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Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Sekera most likely to be traded

Looking ahead to the future it seems likely Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse are the Oilers top-two left defencemen. So where does that leave Andrej Sekera and his $5.5 million cap hit?

It is difficult to evaluate where Sekera is at right now, because he hasn’t been the same player since tearing his ACL in game five of the Pacific Division final last May.

He returned to action on December 21st and, as expected, he looked rusty. It took him some time to find his game. It didn’t help that he got injured on February 9th, in Anaheim again, and missed another two weeks of action. He was starting to play better recently, but then he took a shot off his foot in Tampa Bay and didn’t play last night.

It has been a frustrating season for him, and he’s admitted he hates playing with a knee brace, because it limits his range of motion and ability.

“The mobility (in his knee) is not what it was, so I’m trying to come up with some other movements. When I turn one way it doesn’t react how I’m used to. I need to finish the season strong, have a good summer workout so I don’t have to have the brace, which is limiting me,” Sekera explained.

I expect he will be much better next year after a full off-season of training, but Sekera turns 32 in June and if Klefbom and Nurse are the Oilers top two left defenders for the future, can they afford to pay Sekera $5.5 million to play in their third pairing? He currently has a full no-movement clause, but that changes next year.

I expect he will play for the Oilers next season, but on June 1st, 2019, Sekera can be traded to 15 other NHL teams. On March 1st, 2019 his agent needs to submit a list of 15 NHL teams he would accept a trade to, and starting June 1st, the Oilers are free to move him to any of those 15 clubs.

Sekera has three years remaining on his current deal. He carries a $5.5 million cap hit, but the final two years of the deal in 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 he will be paid $4.5 million. A no-movement clause protects a player, but ultimately if a team really wants to trade a player, we’ve seen them make it happen.

The Oilers like Sekera. He is a stable, solid, reliable defender, but can they afford him for three more seasons at $5.5 million? I don’t see it.

The other factor is the expansion draft. Commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed yesterday that Seattle will have the same rules as Vegas

A quick reminder on the rules if you don’t remember them.

  • Teams have the option of protecting seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters and one goalie.
  • Players with no-movement clauses have to be protected. First and second-year pros along with unsigned draft picks are exempt from the expansion draft.
  • Teams must make a defenseman and two forwards available who played 40 games the previous season or 70 total games in the previous two seasons.

I understand the draft is two years away, but unless the Oilers makes some major changes, I’d assume Klefbom, Nurse and Adam Larsson are the top-three D-men they will want to protect. Ethan Bear and Matt Benning would need to be protected or exposed. Kris Russell would need to be protected as well (no move clause), so I could see them trying to move him before the expansion draft as well. On June 1st, 2019, the Oilers will have ten teams they can trade Russell to. On June 1st, 2020, it will be 15 teams. The final year of his contract is easily tradeable after July 1st, 2020, because after he gets his bonus, he will be owed $1.5 million during the season.

Up front, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Milan Lucic (no move clause), Ryan Strome and Jujhar Khaira are the leading options at this point.

As we saw this past summer, teams can make trades to keep players, and the Oilers like many teams will have a lot of young players they don’t want to lose, so we could see them make a deal.

DOES SEKERA FIT?

Dec 23, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defensemen Andrej Sekera (2) skates against the Montreal Canadiens at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

The salary cap is expected to be between $78-82 million next season. With McDavid’s new $12.5 million contract kicking in then, the Oilers won’t have much cap space.

McDavid, Draisaitl, RNH, Lucic, Puljujarvi, Khaira, Aberg, Kassian, Klefbom, Larsson, Russel, Sekera, Talbot and Al Montoya total $60.2 million. They have $1.33 million in cap space for the Benoit Pouliot buyout.

If the cap is $78 million, they will have $16.5 million to spend, and if it reaches $82 million then they will have $20.5 million to spend. Obviously, they are hoping for the latter.

Darnell Nurse is the only Oilers player in line for a big raise.

For this article, let’s say he signs a bridge deal worth $3 million a season.

Ryan Strome inks a $2.75 million deal.

Matt Benning and Drake Caggiula will likely come in around $1 to $1.2 million each.

So that leaves one more D-man and four forwards with $10.55 million to spend (assuming the cap is at $80 million).

The Oilers could sign or acquire a $4 to $5 million winger and still have room to fill out the bottom of the roster.

If Anton Slepyshev re-signs, and I’m not certain he will based on ice time, he will be in same boat as Caggiula.

It isn’t ideal, but the Oilers should be close to the cap ceiling next year, and not waste cap space like they did this season. Many teams have found solid contributors on value contracts the past few summers, and it is about time Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli finds a few cheap veterans on short-term deals who can contribute.

How Sekera plays next year will impact his future with the team, but even if he plays well, the emergence of Klefbom and Nurse makes him someone I see the Oilers trading next summer.

Many have written about Kris Russell’s contract, and I understand the concern, but Russell makes $1.5 million less than Sekera and he can play both left and right defence. Right now, both look like they could start next season in the Oilers third pairing. They would be a very good third pair, but very expensive, and I could see them playing there next season, I don’t think it is reasonable to have $9.5 million in their third pair for an extended period of time.

Looking into the future, I won’t be surprised to see Sekera traded before Russell.

Sekera has a bigger cap hit, but he also has 15 teams — five more than Russell — the Oilers could trade him to. I suspect neither plays out their contract in Edmonton, but don’t be surprised to see Sekera dealt, starting as early as next summer.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • Anton CP

    Guess I’ll save everyone some time and be the first to say for the rest of you:

    “Chiarelli did a terrible job! What a terrible signing! Chiarelli should be fired!”

    Now, can we have a real discussion about Sekera’s situation instead of just bashing Chiarelli to no end?

    • Hemmercules

      Thats a tall order. Seems like everything wrong with the Oilers seems to circle back to Ol’ Pete and his OldBoy cronies.

      Chia can barely make a trade giving away the moon for nothing. What makes anyone think he can dump a 32 year old guy on a 5.5 mil contract with a bad leg on downswing of his career? I don’t envision the team being all that different next season. Maybe one or two new faces in and an old one out.

    • A-co

      Has anyone mentioned pistol pete screwed this team and should be tarred and feathered beside the Wayne Gretzky statue….just wondering if anyone mentioned that

    • MrBung

      I think the above article laid it out pretty well. The huge factor hanging over everything is how badly Chia has managed this team. It affects decisions and discussion everywhere. No getting around that fact.

  • Strottie

    Unless the Oilers plan on retaining, it’s highly unlikely that Sekera could be moved to any of the teams on his list of 15. One of Russell and Sekera NEED to be bought out this year. If the team feels like retaining on and trading Russell is easier, then Sekera is bought out. If the team values Sekera’s more refined two-way game once he’s healthy, then Russell is bought out. Trading bad contracts never works out, and it’s incredibly hard to do. Unless you’re pulling a TOR/CBJ Clarkson-for-Horton kind of deal (which the Oilers won’t have the space to do beyond this season), the team cannot trade Sekera. He gets moved for an equally awful contract or high picks are moved for pennies on the dollar to get him off the books.

    The reality for the Oilers is that they’re going to have a very tight cap situation until the upcoming lockout can grant them compliance buyouts to rid themselves of Lucic and Sekera. The team really needs to sharpen up their drafting and development to keep the flow of cheap ELCs on the roster in full swing. I’m not big at all on trading either RNH or Klefbom at all either, but if the return looks like NHL-ready prospects and 1st round picks for this upcoming draft, money and the lack-thereof dictates they need to pull the trigger on those deals. Teams don’t want expensive spare parts, the only way the Oilers can free up extra money this season is by either getting current players resigned for cheap or by moving valuable pieces.

    • ThatGuy109

      Sereka’s buyout looks like this:

      SEASON CAP HIT
      2018-19 $1,611,111
      2019-20 $2,611,111
      2020-21 $2,611,111
      2021-22 $1,611,111
      2022-23 $1,611,111
      2023-24 $1,611,111

      SEASON CAP HIT
      Russell’s buyout looks like this:
      2018-19 $611,111
      2019-20 $1,111,111
      2020-21 $3,611,111
      2021-22 $1,111,111
      2022-23 $1,111,111
      2023-24 $1,111,111

      Retaining and trying to trade is the superior option or it’s death by a thousand cuts (Pouliot’s buyout hit for the next 3 years says hello).

      Not to dump on the Russell signing more than it has been already but people were defending the term even before the season with “Just buyout the last 2 years.” If you plan to buy a guy out 2 years into a 4 year contract, maybe don’t offer him the final 2?

      Either way, I don’t think the buyout is the answer here. Retain or trade for another costly contract that maybe fills another need.

      • Kneedroptalbot

        Chiarelli has screwed this team up so much, not only cap space but lack of skill and good skating forwards.
        The prospect pool is almost bare in Bakersfield too. Oh and the Big L signed with a NMC. Dismal.

      • MillHoodsHockey4Life

        If the cost of keeping Russell and Sekera means losing Nuge or Klef then without hesitation admit you f’d up, buy out Russell and use the $3m to keep your better players. Sure it means you have to have cheap players like Gryba or Pak signed but Chia can’t just wait panic because he boxed himself into a corner with the Lucic, Russell and Sekera contracts. Get creative, waste dead cap space but don’t throw away quality players who will benefit the team. It may be one of those thousand cuts but I’d rather a papercut than a meat slicer.

        • ThatGuy109

          Yeah it’s not pretty either way you cut (ha) it. You could try and get Russell to waive his NMC, retain some money and trade him or just weather the storm next year. In year 3, the actual dollar amount drops off and his NMC opens up as mentioned in the article and then you make the move.

  • The Whispererer

    One hitch in the giddy-up.
    Counting on waiting to trade Russell after the July 1st, 2020 bonus payment would mean he would have to be protected in the June 2020 expansion draft; unless he waives his NMC.

    • Same idiot’s will be in charge, or replaced by the former idiots in charge. Matter’s not what they do, but who they fire PERMANENTLY & PROPERLY as in gone, not promoted , or tell the fan base they are gone when they have just been reassigned. No PROFESSIONAL organization would allow this hanging on to ass kissers and sycophants that do nothing but tarnish there already tarnished reputation. If PC, TM (& his useless assistants) MAC-T . LOWE ,HOWSON et al remain I am out until they are all gone. Season ticket holders should do the same. Complete gong show for 11 of 12 years and still no one held accountable.
      #stillnotwatching

      • Hemmercules

        Keep dreaming and not watching. Those guys aren’t going anywhere. Maybe Howson. Nicholson said Chia is in, Chia said MCL and his crew are in. Take those guys words for what they are worth but as it stands it looks like the entire org will still be here next season aside from the lucky couple players that get traded away to greener pastures.

  • McRaj

    Completely irrelevant to the article but wanted to post this. Barzal is on pace to have the 6th highest points in a season for a rookie since the 1990-1991 season. Only Selanne, Ovi, Sid, Joe Juneau, and Malkin will have scored more points in their rookie seasons in that time span.

    • Anton CP

      Are we talking Barzal again? Seriously…

      Even if the Oilers did not give away the pick that Chiarelli will still not going to draft Barzal anyway. The team needs defenseman so Chabot will get his name called before Barzal.

      So, AGAIN, Barzal will never be an Oiler. Nevermind the trades.

    • Rock11

      This. This is exactly why the Russell deal might be the worst contract in NHL history. The term was brutal but OK you live with it. The AAV was horrible but if you get enough value deals it might not be crippling. But Holy Hell look at that list of players likely needing to be exposed to Seattle because you are forced to protect an undersized, mid-30’s, offensively deficient 3rd pairing D-man. The NMC is a fireable offense. As it stands the best case is exposing Klef and Larsson(or substitute Nurse for one of them) on the back end and 2 of Yamamoto, JP, or Nuge. In order to save any or all of them it would mean significant other assets(picks or prospects) going to Seattle instead, further depleting a weak system. Just remarkably stupid.

      • Osmosis_jones

        Worst in NHL history? Never heard of DiPietro, Yashin, Clarkson, Redden, Bryzgalov (Flyers), Gomez and Holik?

        I wish I could post a “stop being so dramatic” gif here.

        • Oil Fever

          WHAT??!!
          Are we forgetting the King of terrible contracts????
          NoScoreOff, Horcoff??? Now, that’s THE worst contract in NHL History, IMHO!
          I wish I could post a “stop being so dramatic” gif here. HAHAHAHAHAHA

    • tkfisher

      The same reason they bought out Pouliot only to not spend to the cap. The same reason they over paid Russell. The same reason they though Reinheart was a MUST HAVE, even though he was a slow LD, and we really needed a RD. The same reason Hall was traded for less than he was worth. The same reason Eberle was trade for an easily acquirable below average 3C. It’s also the same reason this team knee capped themselves with the salary cap by over paying for Lucic with both term and dollars when he’s a big man starting his decline in a young quick mans league. I won’t even touch on expecting a colleciton of players with less than 100 NHL games being expected to carry the entire RW position lines 1, 2, and 3 with the hopes of competing for a cup. Long story short, none of it makes sense unless you either a) hate the team that employs you and you’re really a secret agent working for the flames, or b) you’re simply bad at what you do.

    • crabman

      I would really hope Seattle would be one of the teams Russell would except a move to. Then He wouldn’t need to be protected. Seattle might not take him but we wouldn’t need to protect him. With how well things have gone with Vagas this year the potential of playing on an expansion team isn’t as bad as in the past.

    • DK0

      Because Chia was so sure that we were going to be as good as last year that he was saving this cap space to become a major buyer around the trade deadline. If we didn’t suck so hard early in the season it might have worked too. His mistake was not doing something with the space once it was apparent 2 months in that we need help to even be in the picture.

      • Soccer Steve

        I’ve thought about this angle but HOW could he stare at his winger combos (Nuge not included, that was only recently) and be confident?

        I guess if I have to ask the question…

  • tkfisher

    With no move clauses, if a player with that clause is traded (or waives the no trade clause), does the no trade clause follow the player and also apply to the team that acquired said player? I would assume so, but haven’t heard one way or the other.

  • TKB2677

    Oilers fans are truly baffling sometimes. You’d think being from Canada in a hockey mad market, they would be smarter hockey people but many aren’t. I say this based on the comments I am reading here. Sekera is a good top 4 dman. He’s a #3 on most teams. Guess what, guys like him make 5+ mill. So he is right in where he should be. He’s a good player, he is just coming off an injury. INJURIES happen. He would have value to a lot of teams because he is a decent skater, moves the puck decent, brings offense, can play both special teams and give you 20+ effective mins easily. He’s been a decent signing.

    People can be mad at Chia for some of his moves but if you are upset by the Sekera signing, you don’t know much about hockey.

    • crabman

      Sekera wasn’t a bad signing. But if Klefbom regains form and with Nurse’s emergance this year Sekera is the player who should be moved in the coming years. Not because he isn’t a good player but because Nurse and Klefbom are young and will be in their prime through the McDavid contract. If they are the top 2 LD Sekera should be moved if he is the 3rd pair LD to free up money for other needs.
      That said I don’t see Chiarelli being patient enough for that plan.

      • Kepler62c

        It’s really unfortunate Sekera was injured this season and it’s up in the air whether he’ll return to form. If we’d seen another strong season from him it would have opened up the possibility of keeping Nurse-Sekera as the LHD depth and moving Klefbom for something else (winger/RHD).

        • crabman

          @Kepler62c, I fully expect the 1-2 LD next year will be Nurse, Sekera and Klefbom moved. Not sure I agree but fully expect it. Someone needs to be moved if they are going to fill other holes and I expect Chiarelli to be aggressive.

  • crabman

    This article is basically the argument I’ve used for bridging Nurse for a couple years. We are stuck with Sekera and Russell’s contracts for at least 1 more year. And in 2 years both could be gone freeing up the $9.5M. To do this the D will more than likely stay the same for I more year. This might be the smart play. Be patient. But with Chiarelli more than likely on the hot seat I expect him to try and make some major moves this off season.

  • Kepler62c

    Hmmm I was under the impression that the modified NTC that both Sekera and Russell will have when the Seattle expansion rolls around means they WON’T need to be protected??? Only NMCs were required to be protected in the Vegas expansion (Sekera had one at the time).

    If this is the case, the Oilers could send a pick Seattle’s way in exchange for them taking Russell/Sekera over Bear/Jones/etc.

  • GK1980

    I understand the case in trading Sekera but I would wait one more year. He is still “youngish” and will most likely rebound next season. A veteran D teaching the young D some tricks never hurts. Keep him around the locker room a little more. Unless the Drai for Karlsson deal happens……..I kidd.

    • crabman

      The article says as much. Next year Sekera still has a NMC. So the year after next is the year to move him when he only has a MNTC and there will be 15 teams to trade him to.

      • Arfguy

        I don’t think the Oilers are as bad as this year. I am hoping a lot of the players are having really off years. I don’t expect everyone to have career years next year, but if 50% of the players that are doing awful this year can have a stronger year next year, I think we’ll be better.

        I also think that Sekera will be better next year. He really should not have been re-activated. I think he should have been shut down for the entirety of the year, because the season was basically lost by the time he was ready. Sekera was one of our best defenceman last year and was on 1st unit PP.

        I would fully want the Oilers GM to exercise patience. I don’t like the chances of that happening.