The Edmonton Oilers and No Movement Clauses

Sparked by TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, there has been some talk recently that the Oilers might be going “big game hunting” this offseason in order to find an offensive right-shot defenseman. Some disagree and say that the team should be targeting a winger as their big add this summer, while others think that Peter Chiarelli should stick to small, safe bets while trying to improve the roster this summer.

I think this team does need to make a big addition this summer, and I prefer that they go find a top-six winger to partner with Leon Draisaitl, but regardless of what area of their roster they decide to spend on, they’ll likely need to move out a contract to do so.

Oscar Klefbom has been the name thrown around, but he has a great deal and honestly, dealing him is sort of counter-productive to the whole creating cap space idea.

If they want to create cap flexibility, they’ll likely have to move out a bad contract, and by my count, they have three of them. The problem is that all three of those deals have no-movement clauses attached to them.

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I’m of the opinion that a player should never be expected to waive their no-movement clause. The player and their agent earned that NMC by negotiating it and as soon as the deal is signed, it’s now the teams’ problem, not the players.

So is there a chance that the Oilers could find a fit that would convince one of Andrej Sekera, Milan Lucic, or Kris Russell to waive?

Kris Russell carries a cap hit of $4.0 million for the next three seasons, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s overpaid. But I think the organization really values what Russell brings to the table and I don’t think that they would look at moving him.

His no-movement clause also states that starting in 2019-20 (next July) he has to give the team a list of 10 players that he would agree to be traded to. That list expands to 15 teams in the final year of his deal. If there’s a time to move on from this deal, it’s not this summer.

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If you move Russell, yes you’d free up some space, but then you’d have to find a replacement for him, which would cost some money too. $4.0 million is an overpayment, but it’s not the worst deal they have.

Dec 23, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Milan Lucic (27) celebrates a second period goal against the Montreal Canadiens at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Milan Lucic is easily their worst deal at $6.0 million for the next five years and he also has a NMC. There is a one year window from June 1, 2021, until June 30, 2022, where Lucic has to give eight teams he’d agree to be dealt to, but that’s still tough and obviously doesn’t help them this summer.

There are a few teams that I think might be interested in Lucic, but it would likely involve taking back a bad contract or retaining money.

The Montreal Canadiens have talked about their need to change their culture and when I hear that, my mind automatically goes to Lucic. The Habs were also close to signing Lucic when he was a free agent two summers ago, so there might be some interest.

There have also been rumblings out of Vancouver that the Canucks want to get bigger this summer. Brandon Sutter and Loui Eriksson are both overpaid on long-term deals, so would the Canucks be interested in a swap of bad deals? It’s a long shot.

From a Lucic perspective, yes Vancouver is his hometown, but there have been some noted issues between Lucic and Canucks fans. It’s far from a slam dunk that Lucic would agree to move a province over if a deal was struck.

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For the Oilers, moving Lucic for another bad contract, especially Eriksson’s doesn’t really create any cap space, which is what the Oilers really need.

That brings me to Andrej Sekera, who I think is the most likely of the three to be moved.

He’s owed $5.5 million for each of the next three seasons and, like Russell, his no-movement clause opens up next summer and the Oilers could ask him for a list of 15 teams he would waive to.

The fact that list opens up next summer leads me to believe there is a chance the Oilers could convince him to waive this summer. Now speculating where a player might be willing to go is almost impossible.

It’s easy to think that a player wouldn’t mind going to a city in a warm climate, or maybe somewhere they’ve had success before, but there’s simply no way to know for sure.

The one team I think might be a fit for Sekera and the Oilers is Buffalo. He started his career there and played over 300 games in a Sabres jersey. There have also been rumblings that the Sabres might be looking for a veteran d-man to add to their blueline.

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Would Sekera be interested in a reunion with Buffalo? We don’t know, but if there was a chance for the Oilers to shed a player with a no-movement clause, this might be the best option.

At the end of the day, when I look at the conditions around Sekera, Russell, and Lucic it’s clear that the Oilers will have a tough time moving one of these contracts this summer, which will clearly make things a little trickier for them when it comes to improving their roster.

If there is a time for the Oilers to move one of the three, it will come in the summer of 2019, when both Sekera and Russell could be asked to submit a list of teams they would waive for. The unfortunate thing for Peter Chiarelli is that he can’t really afford to wait until 2019 to clear cap space and improve this roster.

  • Gravis82

    Do people not remember that Sekera was our best D man in the playoffs? He is a great defenseman that just went through an awful injury. He will be better this year.

    • CMG30

      Well, yah. But this is Chirelli we’re talking about here. Mr. What have you done for me lately?… Mr. trade ’em when their value is lowest so that we can overpay for a new shiny toy…

    • socaldave

      I don’t know if I’d agree 100% with your assessment (I thought Larssen was a beast, YMMV), but regardless, I think there’s a better use of that $5.5M. I don’t disagree Reggie is a solid NHL blueliner, but I really do think there’s a better, younger Dman that can be locked up with some of those dollars. Move Reggie if you can, sign a younger Dman (John Moore from NJ (avg 20pts the last 5 years (hahaha another leftie)), get Drai a scoring winger.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Trading Andrej Sekera comes with immense risk. Yes, he was awful this past year when he returned from injury, however, that was 100% predictable and anticipated. We all knew/know that it takes a good year (give or take) to recover from this type of major knee surgery and that Sekera would be a shadow of himself.

    Lets not forget that Sekera is arguably our best d-man – he is right up there with Klefbom and Larsson (and now Nurse) as far as value to this team. If he’s traded now, I’m sure we will receive pennies on the dollar in return (aside from cap space) due to his injury and the unknown.

    Its a perverse income if we essentially give away our best d-man for cap space. Yes, there is a risk that he continues to be a shadow of himself but its a foregone conclusion that he will be better than he was at the end of this past season. Losing the brace alone (which he has expressed greatly limits his mobility) will lead to him being better. The question is, how much better? 95%? 75% Even at 75% he has value to this team.

    I would do everything I could to keep Reggie for the season and re-asses next season if he really continues to be a shadow of his normal self.

    • Carbonrod

      I am hoping for a return to form for Sekera too. %85 of Sek at 5.5 million is better than %100 of Russel at 4.0 IMHO. Sekera contract also doesn’t need to be protected in the expansion draft, while Russels still remains a modified NMC and is not exempt. I’d be happ with Klef, Nurse, and Sek as our lefties until His contract runs its course. It gives our D prospects the chance to develop in the AHL a few more years.

    • Arfguy

      Of the three that could potentially be traded, Lucic is easily the one I would be most eager to move. I do not care if he bounces back. He has shown that he just can’t make a smart play nor can he skate. There are plenty of slow players in the NHL that play a smart game. Joe Pavelski comes to mind immediately. Much lower in the draft, considerably smaller than Lucic, older, yet plays the game Lucic should be playing.

      I do not know why everyone is so eager to trade Sekera. He had a pretty serious injury and I honestly thought he was brought back too early. I think he’ll be better this upcoming season. Also, I get that Russell is overpaid, but he blocks a ton of shot. Watching the Golden Knights play and especially someone like Deryk Engelland…I can totally see the Oilers regretting moving Russell.

    • Cowbell_Feva

      There is risk to trading Sekera. But what if Sekera and #10 or some other sweetener could nab Ristolinen from Buffalo, seeing as they already be taking Dahlin??

      I don’t quite remember Rej being as good as many posters on here recall, but he is on the wrong side of 30 with a major knee injury not far behind him….

  • Gravis82

    “The unfortunate thing for Peter Chiarelli is that he can’t really afford to wait until 2019 to clear cap space and improve this roster.”

    Why not? I would rather wait for another year than make a bad decision this year. We have to be realistic here, they messed up and it will take a while to get out of it. There will be no cup within 5 years, there could of been, but not now.

    Oilers need a 5-year mini-rebuild….to acquire supporting talent that is cheap. That’s just the way it is, unfortunately.

    This means draft as many players as possible. If someone is not going to be around in 5 years for a cup run, trade them for draft picks.

    • Carbonrod

      5 years is a full rebuild, not a mini one. I don’t think we are that far off. We just need 2 years to be a playoff ready team. Both Russel and Sek can be traded after next year, to give us cap room to sign a winger. Our top prospects, Bear and Yam and #10 will be ready for the NHL after next year too. Luc and Talbot should bounce back next year too.

  • Glencontrolurstik

    I say (reluctantly) that we go pretty much status quo… Show the team that last year was an anomaly. Change some coaching staff (which I believe was the majority of the issues), this has already started.
    The team seems to have made headway in picking up prospects. They also are showing us promise putting Woodcroft in the AHL as a direct line with McLellan. We can all come up with theories as to why this approach won’t work, however I think that these are logical moves. We can only assume that everyone is healthy & Pulli is learning more english & buying in abit. Lucic is working on skating and becoming his old self that we’d all love to see. Kassian will be re-energized and become the player we were used to seeing… etc. etc.
    I see alot in this team and I ask myself about Vegas’ success? When I look at our squad & the talent that Vegas has, there is no reason why the Oilers, as they stand today, can’t compete alot better than last year. Stay with what we have. Show the team you have confidence in them. But above all, pay attention to the details… Like, not keeping a player up for 9 games, when you have no intention of playing him further.
    Coach & develop properly. And concentrate on total buy-in…

    • BlueHairedApe

      Agree with most things you are saying but you neglected to mention goaltending. It all starts there and if Talbot doesn’t bounce back the team is screwed again. This is also the number one reason LV is where they’re at.

      • Glencontrolurstik

        Defense & a better team in front of Cam will make him exponentially better…
        Vegas as an example went with their 5th stringer, backing up Subban (who was picked up on waivers from Boston) for a good chunk of the season, because their starters kept getting injured. They even played a Kamloops Blazer. They still hung in their and had no trouble winning games.
        Talbot, for most of this year was (and I’m sure you’ll agree) hung out to dry, by a banged up (& incapable because of it) defense.
        Talbot is more than capable. I think the new guy should push him as well… Plus Montoya is a capable back-up with a good & healthy D…
        I’d argue that Fleury is NOT the main reason that LV is in the playoffs… They have a committed & directed team in front of their goalie, that’s what gets you to the playoffs. The goalie gets you through the playoffs.

        • BlueHairedApe

          There’s a couple different ways of looking at it. Forwards and defense also play a lot better when they have confidence in the goaltending. Nobody I’ve talked to thinks Talbot played very well last year and it was obvious he was struggling. Way too many easy goals which can’t be blamed on defense. And I didn’t say LV made the playoffs because of Fleury but I think he’s the number one reason why they are in the finals. He’s posted a 947 save percentage in the playoffs so if they win the cup (and maybe even if they don’t) guaranteed he will be MVP. That tells me that he is the most important person on his team or the number one reason they won.

  • Carbonrod

    The best move this year is to wait. As much good luck as we had 2 seasons ago, we had bad luck this year. Talbot will be back to normal, and I think Sek and Lucic will perform better. Klef and Larsson will be healthy as well. Next July is the time to think about moving Sekera and Russel. Any talk of moving one of our bad contracts this year is just fantasy. We can trade them both for whatever we can get if we want to then.

    We will hear who the new assistant coaches are soon too. I hope Yawney is one of them, just for his ability to bring good D-men through the system.

    • GK1980

      Agreed, I think this team still has the ability to be a consistent playoff team. Maroon is a cool character guy and I thought him and Kassian would be the energy guys that would bring Stanley to Edmonton. I hope Kassian stays and maybe sign Maroon. Still like his character and swagger.

  • Fire Woodcroft!

    Why do so many of the columnists here want Chiarelli to make a dumb trade and make the team worse?

    Haven’t we had enough of that the past couple of summers?

  • Jaxon

    I think one thing we’re missing is how difficult it will be to move Russell as the next expansion draft approaches. Sekera’s contract becomes a limited NTC meaning he won’t have to be protected, whereas Russell’s remains a limited NMC and will have to be protected. If you were another GM, would you take on a NMC right before an expansion draft? Whichb three do you protect of Klefbom, Nurse, Larsson and Russell? I’m not sure they could trade him today unless he agrees to waive his NMC permanently. I believe that choice is his. If traded next summer, his NMC goes with him so I’m not sure GMs will want him and Russell can game the system and put teams with 3 D that GMs will want to protect already on their roster. If they can convince him to waive this summer, they should. To me, this points to a possible buyout and of you have to buy him out, you might as well so it now and get $3.4M in cap space this summer when they really need it.

  • elliotsmom

    Whatever changes or moves are made to our roster this off season, guaranteed General Disappointment will pull the wrong switch. I do not believe that he has a plan in place, but I do believe he is only saying that to shut up the masses. We definitely need improvements in a number of areas, but I’m not convinced Chia will deliver. It’s sad to say this, as I’m a great fan of the Oilers, but Chia has lost all credibility with me.

  • Kneedroptalbot

    The Oilers simpily have too many things to fix to become a contender.
    1. Major lack of team speed and quickness.
    2. Minimal adequete secondary scoring.
    3. No offensive D-man to QB the power play.
    4. Worst in Leauge starting Goaltending. (47th best SV%), lack of depth in goaltending.
    5. Cap space issues (21M for 2 players), NMC and NTC contracts (thanks PC).
    I’m not sure how they fix this situation? Free McDavid??

  • percy

    Just a slow steady improvement. Don’t need to sell the farm. Management keeps putting themselves in a corner. Then they come out swinging their fists in the air.

  • OilCan2

    Next season hinges on some guys recovering their health and form. We have the best player in the world and the center right behind him is no slouch either. How we fill the gaps left by departing bottom six forwards will be the answer right after we draft the best (R)D available next month.

  • he shoots he scars

    The only way any of these players will move out is if they want to move. If I’m a player or agent and get asked for the 10 or 15 team list, I’d stifle the Oilers by choosing teams that are stacked in those positions or teams that are already in a salary cap squeeze, thus basically eliminating most of the teams on your list. NMC contracts are handcuffs.

  • TKB2677

    If they can get Sekera to waive his no move, I would trade him in a heartbeat. I have nothing against Sekera. When healthy, I think he is a decent #3 dman capable of putting up 30 pts and giving you solid mins. I think he’s been an OK signing. But he is going to be 32 yr old in June coming off a major knee injury. I have full confidence that he will come back healthy and be good and will probably be decent for most of the rest of his deal. But at 32, his best years are behind him. That is not a knock, that is life. Then I look at the depth chart. Sekera when health is a solid dman but when healthy, Klefbom is better and he is way younger and cheaper. Klefbom proved he was better when they went to the playoffs. Right now when healthy, Sekera is better than Nurse most due to experience. But ideally, you want Nurse ahead of Sekera given his age and even if they were to sign Nurse to a long term deal, it will be for less than what Sekera makes. If Nurse is your 2nd pairing, left shot dman, you are fine. So I would trade Sekera for picks and prospects as a salary dump. Try to get a prospect that is NHL ready.

  • russ99a

    Lazy reporting. Nobody wants Lucic’s contract least of all after a bad year, Russell will only Ok Calgary and Sekera wanted an NMC because he was sick of going to new teams every year. Not to mention would you leave an up and coming team with McDavid and Draisaitl to join one years away from the postseason?

    I’d be shocked if any of the three players will waive.

  • lobby91

    Buyout Russell now, 611k cap hit this year and 1.11M the next 5 (except for 3M in the lockout year). Solves a ton of issues. Can replace him for a shorter term cheaper solution