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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.

FREE AGENCY

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.

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.

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.

      • Violentgent13

        No, I don’t think we’d trade Bouche, but I’m not sure what Chia is going to do in this pinch and it frightens me.
        Ekholm is pretty good but look at his defensive partners.
        Poile would make that deal… but he’d ask for more as well…

        • Burnward

          That’s what I’m thinking. He needs a legit defenseman. There are three chips to do so: Puljujarvi, Bouchard or Yamamoto.

          Puljujarvi hasn’t shown enough to command a real return, Yamamoto is tiny and needs to prove something against men before he can command a real return…Bouchard is about the only guy with real value.

          Every team has their own Bear or Lowe and aren’t going to give up a 2-3 guy for that.

          • That's My Point

            The Oilers just drafted their own Brent Burns in Evan Bouchard, there is ZERO CHANCE they are going to trade one of the BEST picks in this years draft who is the MOST NHL ready from ALL the draft picks this year according to the scouts.
            Bouchard and McDavid will be in the HHOF together.
            BOOK IT!

          • Burnward

            I believe Chiarelli is managing for his job.

            He’s got to make the playoffs. Especially with Connor making 12 million and the team cap strapped.

            They won’t sniff the postseason without another legit defenseman.

            And there are no actual prospects that can bring anything in, outside the three I listed.

            Unless you’re firing a 2019 first-rounder in. Which seems like a bad idea given the Oiler depth and lack of options to improve on last year.

      • Kneedroptalbot

        After watching the Young Stars tournament, Bouchard needs to work on his transitional skating. He was getting caught flat footed, wingers were beating him on the outside. Lets not rush this kid.

  • Violentgent13

    Package a defence prospect with and a 2019 2nd and/or 3rd round pick.
    I feel we have enough depth on the blue line, in terms of up and comers. So I wouldn’t shy away from packaging a Keegan Lowe, since he isn’t a necessarily a fan favourite. Let’s him start fresh with a new team and I’m sure we’d be able to get a #4 or even #3 d-man in return.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      T.O. in general has been coming down hard on Gardiner since the Boston series. You and I know that he was playing outside his comfort zone on an under performing team in that series & got caught… Gardiner is a great defenseman that has become an “Eberle-like” whipping boy to the Leaf Faithful. That said, we could probably get him for a pick & a prospect? I think he’d be an upgrade to Sekera? Gardiner is also in his last year of a ~ 4mil contract I believe?

    • The Whispererer

      Keegan Lowe is not a defence prospect. He is a 25 year old journeyman AHLer whose NHL upside is as a short term bottom pairing injury fill-in. In case you’re thinking of using him in a Faulk trade, Carolina already let him go after 4 years on their AHL team.

  • Abagofpucks

    Chia has to get somebody i dont want Ethan or Evan rushed maybe Davey we know what he can do. Sbisa is he healthy maybe him if he’s cheap and then wait for it …… Maxi Patch on a 1yr.

  • Kneedroptalbot

    A few statistics from 2017-18.
    EDM gave up 264 GA (2nd worst in the entire Western Conf).
    Cam Talbot’s SV% was .908 , this was 46th amongst NHL goaltenders. Statistically it has been proven Goaltenders SV% declines significantly after they reach 30.
    Peter Chiarelli has not upgraded his Defence from last season (draft picks don’t count).
    Andrej Sekera is likely gone for the season, with a torn Achilles.
    I know all sports team’s like to sell Hope (even the Cleveland Brown’s).
    Chiarelli is Hopeing his goaltending and defence show improvement this season,

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Cam Talbot’s 2nd half of last season was way above what you suggest however.
      Also, in the previous 3 years before last season he averaged .928 with the Rangers & Oilers.
      Cam will be fine. It’s the defense that I am worried about. Davidson is not the answer. Try someone else.