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.

      • 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.

  • Spydyr

    So, did Chiarelli learn his lesson last summer or will he sit on his hands again when it comes to replacing Sekera? This is the time for a good GM to earn his money and make a smart trade. One where he does not lose to fill a need. The smart move IMO would be to trade for a defenceman on a expiring contract. It should cut down on the assets required to acquire the defenceman.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    I’m behind the idea of bringing back Davidson, but they’ve already traded him twice and I don’t want him back if we’re just going to trade him again.

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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.

  • Towers-of-dub

    Why wouldn’t Karlsson waive his NMC to go to Edmonton for 1 year? Pad his stats working with McDavid, if the team sucks he’ll be dealt at the deadline. Still has an opportunity to hit UFA next season. Seems like a win.

    • That's My Point

      You know the Oilers just drafted a player who scored more than 30 MORE points than anyone else on his team AND MORE points than any D in the ENTIRE LEAGUE AND is 6′ 2″ AND is 194 lbs AND totalled 92 points last season AND did I mention he’s a righty???
      The OILERS powerplay is fixed.
      Sekera’s injury is perfect timing for Bouchard.
      Looks like Bear and Jones won’t make the team in their 4th year of trying either; they should be trade bait now and not have to wait for 5 years post draft to try again in 2019 to make the NHL.

      • Bills Bills

        Offensive zone starts can only do so much. At some point this kid has to defend against NHL players. When the Oilers can’t get control of the puck in their own zone because of a lack of true defenders, Bouchard will get eaten up. He needs to go back to London where he can further develop on a team that is known for developing long term NHL players.

  • El Oilero

    Bring Sbisa, Franson and Oduya to compete. I like Sbisa the most but Franson is still young. Oduya can help bring some experience to a still young D core. We should be able to get a player for less than $2M leaving a net saving of $4M that can go to Nurse and a winger.

  • 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.

  • lee

    This is why you have to keep your draft picks so your farm system has replacements for just such a situation. Trading when the league knows you need to trade got Carolina almost nothing for a 30 goal scorer.
    The Oilers will just have to deal with this internally, this training camp needs to be about finding that replacement. Give the young 1st year prospects a game and then get serious, last year when they needed to do just this they wasted so much time in training camp.
    The team needs to move on, its not McDavid or Dria that’s gone for the season.

  • Chris Prongers Rake

    Sbisa, Enstrom or Davidson and in that order of preference. Emelin and Franson are too slow, Lowetide loved Franson so that should tell us to stay clear. Ekholm could be had for a price the Oilers shouldn’t pay, Carolina isn’t trading Faulk, and the Avs aren’t trading Barrie to a conference rival in a pinch after making the playoffs unless they receive an overpayment.

      • The Whispererer

        I think Carolina would happily trade Faulk, and it wouldn’t cost as much as some people think. Why ? Although Faulk has 2 years left at a cap hit of $4.833 his actual salary is $6 million in each of those years; there is also the fact of his declining performance over the past couple of years. I think Zach Kassian + a mid-round pick in 2019 or 2020 might get it done. I am not recommending that trade, because i think $12 million is a lot to pay for a player who is now a 3rd pairing RHD and PP specialist a la Cody Franson.

  • Alberta Ice

    Like cannabis in Canada, Darnell’s stock value just went up with Sekara’s injury announcement. Now left with two huge questions: A contract offer and a 2nd line defenceman replacement. Fall must be getting closer, eh? Chia needs to get this done soon.

  • Natejax97

    We need a guy on an expiring deal or sign a free agent…

    Is it true that we can’t do much on the trade front until the start of the season when the roster is set, then we can move Sekera to LTIR and make a move.

    Horrible news. I can’t imagine how painful this injury is and how frustrated Sekera is right now. Get well soon Reggie and I hope you can come back against the odds next year and be great for us again. God speed on the recovery!

    • Spydyr

      Silver lining, it free up a lot of cap space as far as the pain goes think of the worse pain you ever felt now double it. That is how it feels the few days after surgery.

      • OriginalPouzar

        It doesn’t really free up cap space as, once Sekera is activated from LTIR, the ability to go over the cap provided by LTIR, disappears. Maybe that isn’t until next year but, if we acquire a contract that goes beyond this year, lets not forget that cap hit is in addition to Sekera’s $5.5M

        This really limits any acquisition to a one-year contract and, even so, Sekera could be activiated in February (or so) and, at that time, the ability to go over the cap disappears.

        Essentially, we are limited to a smaller depth acquistiion – Enstrom or Davidson.

        • Ryan Jones Is Still My Hero

          Yet somehow Joffrey Lupul was able to ride out the last years of his contract on LTIR with a mysterious abdominal injury. Same with Ference, he was on LTIR and leading November Project up and down the Commonwealth steps. Call me cynical, but I think Sekera will be on LTIR for as long as they need him to be.

          • Spydyr

            Not too mention itchy Hossa. With a player at Sekera age a Achilles tendon injury could be career ending. As I mentioned earlier the best course IMO is to sign a defenceman on an expiring contract.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Invite Andrei Markov over for a PTO. He became a Canadian citizen when he was with Montreal & loves Canada.
      A try out should certainly lure him back from the KHL? He has remained mostly healthy over his NHL career. And is one season removed from 36 points on a bad Hab team. That’s thinking outside the box…..

  • rivid

    None of the above…. there is a reason why these guys are still available, they all have serious issues with their game. It’s either wait it out and hope a younger player rises to the occasion or make a trade. I still believe disputed the thumbs down that waiting for training camp to play out and see where everything falls.

  • 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.

  • ubermiguel

    I would love to see Franson &/or Emelin on a PTO, but like Bills Bills says adding borderline NHL/AHL defencemen isn’t really adding depth. I would want that 6/7 defencemen to be a veteran to keep the pressure of the kids though, let them develop properly.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    I actually like Brandon Davidson, But whether he would want to come back to the Oilers after they got him back last year and then traded him not long after. I think Davidson is still miffed about that, but he was one of those guys that you didnt need to worry too much about in his end, he wasnt flashy but he wasnt a liability either

  • Consultant

    Caleb Jones and a second for Justin Faulk.
    Carolina is looking to shed salary and is deep at right d.
    Faulk is not worth what he used to be, he would go on our second or third pairing and play big pp minutes.

        • Glencontrolurstik

          Yeah the Leafs will move him. His 4 mil contract is expiring & he’s becoming a UFA. He’s not at all popular with the fan-base anymore after the playoff loss last year. He’s a scapegoat, & can be had for a/some prospect/s & a pick or 2. No problem, if we don’t get him, someone will…

        • Glencontrolurstik

          And yet earlier you suggested that we pay 2mil/year more for Faulk (who has 2 years left to Gardiner’s one), which we could get just for Kassian & a pick? Read my comments to see why this is easily doable. The Leafs are probably waiting for the phone to ring?

          • The Whispererer

            You should pay more attention when you read. I reported on Faulk’s Cap hit and salary, and threw out a suggestion what it might take to acquire him, then stated i wouldn’t do it BECAUSE of his contract.
            Leaf fans don’t get to make actual trades, and the only trade i’ve seen suggested was 1 for 1 Gardiner for Trouba. So, no i don’t think a random prospect and a pick would be found acceptable.

  • chezzychez

    Buffalo grabbed Skinner for Cliff Pu and their 2019 second-round draft pick and 2020 third- and sixth-round picks. I’m okay with a trade like that to get Faulk. No point in waiting around while we still have mcdavid.