Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett


The Oilers were dealt a huge blow earlier this week when it was announced that Andrej Sekera underwent surgery on a torn Achilles following an off-season training injury. Sekera will be out of the lineup for at least six months. There’s a chance he won’t return to action at all during the 2018-19 season.

Per the NHL’s CBA, the Oilers will get a salary cap bonus for a replacement player while Sekera is placed on the Long Term Injured Reserve. The LTIR is a complicated thing, but it ultimately comes down to teams being given a bonus to exceed the salary cap at an amount that equals the injured player’s cap hit. In Sekera’s case, if he’s out for all 186 days of the regular season, the Oilers will get $5.5 million in LTIR bonus cap relief.

This situation is ridiculously similar to the one the Oilers dealt with heading into the 2017-18 season. Sekera was hurt during Edmonton’s second-round series with the Anaheim Ducks and was ultimately sidelined until December. Rather than signing another defenceman to replace Sekera, Peter Chiarelli ultimately relied on internal progression from players already on the roster and it blew up in his face. Sekera would end up being rushed back into action in a role bigger than he was capable of playing and he struggled mightily.

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I can’t imagine the same mistakes will be made again this time around. Sekera was missed badly last season and nobody was able to replace his presence in the lineup. That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday THURSDAY EDITION question. How would you spend Edmonton’s LTIR bonus money?

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Realistically, Sekera was probably being pencilled in to play third-pairing minutes with Kris Russell on his off-side to start the season as the pair had success in the past. I figure Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson and Darnell Nurse and Matt Benning were going to be the top two pairings. Sekera’s injury opens up a spot next to Russell on the third pair, I figure.

London Knights defenceman and Edmonton Oilers prospect Evan Bouchard. Photo Credit: Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Internally, the Oilers have tweener Kevin Gravel, who was signed to a two-way deal likely to be an AHL call-up type. Ryan Stanton is another Gravel-esque tweener player who has a decent amount of NHL experience. There’s also Ethan Bear, an interesting an creative offensive defenceman who had some nice flashes during his cup of coffee at the NHL level last year. Evan Bouchard, Edmonton’s first-round pick from 2018 was probably going to get a nine-game showing with the team. Maybe this injury could make it easier for him to stick.

The list of free agents available to replace Sekera certainly isn’t inspiring. Alexei Emelin and Luca Sbisa are veteran options who play a decent defensive game with zero offensive upside. Brandon Davidson is a familiar face who plays a solid game.  Toby Enstrom and Jason Garrison have struggled with injuries the past few years. Paul Martin used to be a very good defender but got bought out by the Sharks in the off-season. Cody Franson can produce on the power play and has a right-handed shot. Like I said, uninspiring.

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If the Oilers do decide to use an internal option to replace Sekera, they could use their LTIR bonus room to make an upgrade on the wings. Are the forwards on the open market much better, though? The biggest name left out there is Rick Nash, who scored just 34 points in 71 games between New York and Boston last season. The other names include familiar faces Mike Cammalleri, Jussi Jokinen, and Benoit Pouliot, and veterans like Troy Brouwer, Daniel Winnik, Drew Stafford, Jason Chimera, and Scott Hartnell. I figure all of those players are better PTO options than anything.

Big Decisions: The Blueline

Could this injury push Chiarelli to make a deal for a one-year defenceman? Justin Faulk’s name has shown up in trade rumours for quite some time but he’s still a member of the Carolina Hurricanes. Is there a move to make there? Or would Chiarelli be walking into a bad situation dealing from a very obvious position of desperation?

So, what would you do with Edmonton’s LTIR money? The list of payers on the open market is pretty ugly, but the Oilers can’t make the same mistake that they did last year in not replacing Sekera, right?


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  • Spydyr

    What happens when another defenceman gets injured? It is not a matter of if but when. Chiarelli has to bring in another defenceman.A defenceman on an expiring contract makes sense as they will not carry a cap hit into next season. There is no alternative and not doing so would be gross incompetence.

  • btrain

    I do hope Faulk is looked into. The notion of desperation is somewhat true but the Hurricanes are not exactly sitting in a position of strength themselves and are not in direct competition with the Oilers at all. I am sure, with Hamilton in the mix and being more of a rebuild situation, they are hopeful to stock up and move away from their more expensive expiring contracts while they can get a decent return. I also would think Carolina is a team Sekera would be willing to waive his no trade to return to. If he is going to continue his NHL career it would likely be helpful to do it away from the spotlight and it helps the Canes bring their cap to the floor.

    Anyway, maybe wishful thinking but perhaps a trade involving Sekera, a pick, and a decent prospect could work? Throw in Caggiula and/or Aberg for fun. In the meantime use the LTIR cap relief to bring in a Davidson or similar as a plan B. As much as Davidson has been jerked around by the Oilers, he is not in a position to entertain multiple offers. He is going to take whatever offer he gets.

  • Hemmercules

    Such a terrible situation. Do you sign one of the leagues leftovers or trade away assets to get a guy? I feel like doing nothing will just give us the same result as last year, a struggling defence that brings down the goaltending with it. Expecting Klef to play out the season like he did two years ago is long shot in my eyes and relying on rookies never seems to pan out. If there is trade out there that only costs a draft pick or 2 and a prospect I think they need to do it. I already felt this would be another playoff miss this year but with Reggie out now (possibly forever) I think its almost a given they miss unless they bring in a another guy and get some significant progress from more than a few players. If Chia does nothing this will be another wasted year of McD.

  • Consultant

    Amen to those above who have taken the “do not rush a 18 year old dman into the NHL” stance.
    18 year old rookies are one thing, 18 year old rookie dmen are completely another. EB should not even get 9 games in my opinion unless he absolutely forces his way into 9 games, which he won’t if the Junior showcase tourney is an indicator. We have to learn to be patient with prospects. Dmen take time. Next year, London and the World Juniors, year
    after he should be penciled into the AHL, get all the support and instruction he can get before he is thrown into the fire. Rushing a forward is one thing, but a dman is altogether different.

    • Redbird62

      Yes, rookie defenseman drafted outside of the top 4 and then getting to play a regular shift in the NHL in their draft+1 season are fairly rare. It has been done though. Bourque, Housley Coffey, Stevens all played right immediately after being drafted. That was a quite a while ago. More recently, Cam Fowler cracked the Anaheim line up as an 18 year old and had a pretty good rookie campaign. Noah Hanafin was drafted 5th overall and played right away as well. It is unlikely Bouchard is ready, but if he earns a spot, (and I would trust Yawney’s assessment on that after camp over anyone on this site), then maybe he can play. The Oilers need to plan as if that won’t happen though.