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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.