Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Potential replacements for Andrej Sekera

It’s now official, Andrej Sekera will miss at least six months after injuring his Achilles while training during the offseason. That leaves the Oilers with five experienced NHL defensemen: Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larson, Darnell Nurse (RFA), Kris Russell, and Matt Benning.

To put it simply: they need another option there. It won’t be enough to pray that one of Evan Bouchard, Ethan Bear, or Kevin Gravel are ready to play.

At this point, I think it’s safe to assume that the Oilers will put Andrej Sekera on long-term injured reserve, which means his $5.5 million cap hit doesn’t count towards to the ceiling.

I don’t think the team can start the season without adding something to their back-end, and they have the money to do so. Trade? Free Agency? Let’s take a look at some options.

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The list of UFA defensemen still available is very slim, but there are a few names that could interest Peter Chiarelli.

LUCAS SBISA: Sbisa spent 30 games with the Vegas Golden Knights last season and hasn’t signed overseas yet this summer. He played 400 minutes at even strength, while rarely starting in the offensive zone, and facing fairly tough competition. He can be a solid PK option and did rack up 14 points in his 30 game stint with the Knights. He was once viewed as a good young defenseman when he was with the Ducks and was being coached by current Oilers Assistant Trent Yawney. Then he got a bad reputation in Vancouver, but still, he might be the best free agent option.

ALEXEI EMELIN: He appeared in 76 games with the Nashville Predators last season and has played at least 70 games in each of the last three seasons. He can eat minutes, but his foot speed would be a real concern for me. We know Chiarelli has a history of liking big, physical players and Emelin fits that mold.

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CODY FRANSON: A large chunk of Oilersnation has wanted to see Franson in orange and blue for quite some time. He has a history of being a good powerplay option and can hold his own at even strength. I think he might be a decent option given how late it is in the offseason. With all that said, he couldn’t stay in the NHL last season, so that worries me.

BRANDON DAVIDSON: Would Brandon Davidson want to come back to Edmonton for a third stint? I’ve heard that there may be mutual interest and I know Davidson has been hanging around Alberta this off-season. Oilers fans know what Davidson can bring and the organization is comfortable with him.

TOBY ENSTROM: He’s spent his entire career with one organization and now finds himself as an unsigned free agent in the middle of August. He got into 43 games with the Jets last year but didn’t look like the same player due to various injuries. He would need to be healthy and have a bounce-back season to make a positive impact on the Oilers.

JASON GARRISON: I put Garrison last for a reason. After a breakout season with Florida in 2011-12, he went on to have a few more 30 point seasons before fizzling out. This past year, he couldn’t stay in the NHL and spent most of the year with the Chicago Wolves (AHL). We know he has a cannon of a shot, but his ability to actually defend his own side of the ice is a concern for me. The Oilers might like his ability to play on the powerplay though.

Other names: Frank Corrado, Ryan Sproul, Johnny Oduya, and Jakub Jerabek.

It’s slim pickings when it comes to available UFA defensemen. The Oilers won’t get an impact player unless Chiarelli goes out and makes a trade. If the team indeed moves Sekera to LTIR, it will give them enough cap space to go out and make a deal for an impact player. Is that player out there?

I doubt Tyson Barrie is still available out of Colorado. We’ve heard Torey Krug’s name linked to the Oilers, but it’s usually followed up by Oscar Klefbom or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins so that’s not happening. Erik Karlsson WILL NOT waive his NMC to come here. Maybe there’s a name out there that we don’t know is being made available that Chiarelli might be able to pry loose.

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The most likely trade, and I use “likely” very loosely because I don’t think a big trade is going to happen, might be found in Carolina. The Hurricanes brought in an elite powerplay defenseman earlier this summer in Dougie Hamilton, and they’ve already made a deal this August by dealing Jeff Skinner to the Sabres. Maybe the Oilers make a call about Justin Faulk.

It goes without saying, the injury to Andrej Sekera is a massive blow. The list of free agents doesn’t feature a single name that could bring what Sekera does to the Oilers. Peter Chiarelli is in a tough spot. A free agent signing won’t make the team much better, he can’t afford to bet on a group of inexperienced d-men to fill the void, and if he goes to the trade market he’ll be sitting in a position of weakness.

Last year we saw a poor start sink the Oilers’ playoff hopes. The team might be doomed to the same fate if they don’t play their cards right over the next few weeks.

  • Chiefaec

    Luca sbisa would be a good alternative, he has nearly 500 NHL games on the hump and would certainly be available for 2M x 1yr.
    He could be re-traded on the trade deadline in case Reggie returns quickly.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      No body wants Sbisa now. Why would they want him at the trade deadine?
      I certainly hope that Yawney has the biggest say in this, as he has been a defensive specialist for some time.
      Aside from the combined scouts thoughts, Yawney has the biggest bead on what’s happening with most of the good defencemen in the league. I would say that he would have a list of targets. Players like Auberg, Rattie etc. could be bait to take an expiring contract. The Oilers, (if they don’t react in a “knee-jerk” way) could come out of this with a similar or better calibre defenseman than Sekera. I don’t think it’s all that bad? And we have time…

  • cmandev77

    Wait for the proper deal to show itself. There are going to be some very serviceable players put on waivers during training camp. If we haven’t found a deal that makes sense by then we can pick up a waiver player. Bouchard will most likely get 9 games anyways before he gets sent down so that eases the need of finding someone right now. Not my favorite scenario but one that does the least amount of damage to the future of the team. I would look at Toby Enstrom though and give him a PTO to see if his injuries are behind him. His contract for this year should be cheap.

  • Oil9744

    Sbisa and Emelin ain’t to bad of options, Justin Faulk is available, especially now that Carolina got Hamilton, Buffalo gave up picks and a prospect to get Skinner so I’d imagine it would be similar to get Faulk, Chiarelli better roll up his sleeves and get to work now cause this is gonna be his last season if the oilers don’t make the playoffs, he can’t afford to just sit back like he did last season now. Faulk and Nurse would be a solid D pair.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Dan Hamhuis is also a UFA isn’t he? He has experience and stays generally healthy?
      Because he wasn’t mentioned above probably has him off the radar enough to offer him a PTO?
      He’d be coming closer to home in Smithers B.C. Notice all the question marks… I’m unsure, but there is a good history for a fill-in player if we don’t want the home-run?

      • Oil9744

        I don’t think Hamhuis is the answer, or Sbisa or any free agent available to be honest, I think a trade has got to happen now, Edmonton needs points from the blue line, when we made the playoffs Sekera put up the most points for a dman on the team, him and Klefbomb were really our only points guys from the back end with Larsson, Nurse, Russel in more of a shutdown D role, Klefbomb is a big question mark if he can return to the same play he had in the 16’-17’ season never mind surpass that, and with Sekera out all season AGAIN Chiarelli really needs to step up and fill that hole on the blue line, Faulk would be a great fit and probably most attainable

        Klefbomb Larsson
        Nurse Faulk
        Russel Benning/Bear/Bouchard

        • Glencontrolurstik

          A trade would definitely be the sexy, exciting way to go, especially for the hockey fan, as we could all debate if we won the trade or lost it. You have to ask yourself this. If Sekera was healthy all year, and was a free agent at the end, would he be picked up at his age? Would he be in the same class as the remaining available UFA defensemen this season? Is there a solid 2nd or 3rd line D man available (without giving up anything) that could allow us to sign Nurse longer term & either develop into something = or better than Sekera was. Enstrom as an example had great #’s over the last 9 years with Winnipeg, until an injury sidelined him. Last year he suffered, but is he healthy now. When he was, he was a dependable, rugged player that was alway in the +… He rarely went down to injury… A dependable stop-gap is what we need, without giving up any of our newly banked prospects. That would be more of a step back, as we are in a position of need trade wise & I doubt we would win much of a trade in our situation. That’s my 2c.

  • Bills Bills

    Having an extra bottom pair defenceman in the system is nice if you want to say you have depth on defence. But you can have as many Kevin Gravels or Eric Grybas as you want, they don’t make your team any better and it’s not real depth. It is having a bunch of bottom end guys. The entire decade of darkness had a common theme. This team did not have enough top end legitimate NHL defenders.
    Last season they couldn’t get the puck out of their own zone if one McDavid, Nuge or Draisaitl didn’t carry it out. They need a puck mover that can defend. They need Sekera or Sekera 2.0 otherwise I foresee a lot of Talbot on his knees with a sunburnt neck this season.