The big boost everybody has been looking forward to is the return of Oscar Klefbom. The Oilers have gone into a tailspin since Klefbom got hurt back in early December, winning just five of 18 games since he was placed on the Injured Reserve. But then there’s also Andrej Sekera, the forgotten defenceman who has missed most of the last year-and-a-half due to two different leg injuries.
Sekera got hurt back during the team’s second-round series against the Ducks in 2017, missed the first half of the 2017-18 season, and wasn’t the same player even when he returned. Sekera got hurt again during an off-season training exercise and has been sidelined all year.
According to Elliotte Friedman, Sekera is getting close to being ready for a conditioning stint. Friedman also notes that the Oilers are soon going to have to clear some salary cap room in order to fit Sekera under the cap.
Sekera’s presence has been badly missed on the Oilers’ blueline. His first injury from the playoffs is a key reason why the wheels fell off last season and his off-season injury put the Oilers in a difficult situation heading into this season. Still, despite Sekera’s history, we have no idea what to expect from him when he returns. He’s played just 36 games since the beginning of the 2017-18 season and predictably didn’t look anything like his former self during those games.
Regardless, Sekera is going to play for the Oilers at some point this season and the Oilers are going to need to find a way to make room for his $5.5 million cap hit.
The LTIR is a really, really complicated thing that allows teams to replace players who are going to miss a significant amount of time due to injury. Many of the intricacies of the LTIR aren’t even outlined in the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. Contrary to common belief, the LTIR isn’t just free money and it doesn’t just remove a player’s cap hit for a certain period of time. Instead, a team’s upper limit is adjusted based on the player’s salary cap.
That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday question. How should the Oilers maneuver to fit Sekera under the salary cap?
Once Sekera is deemed fit to play, the Oilers will no longer be able to go over the salary cap limit and they’ll need to remove some significant cap hits from their roster. A few options are…
- Trading Cam Talbot. Talbot has a $4,166,667 cap hit which would represent a significant saving if the Oilers could manage to deal him without taking much back in return. Of course, the issue is who would want to take on a big cap hit for a goalie who hasn’t played well over the last two seasons.
- Trading someone else. Talbot would obviously be a big one given his cap hit, but it might be easier to deal a smaller cap hit like Tobias Rieder, Zack Kassian, Alex Petrovic, or Matt Benning. All of those players have cap hits of $2,000,000 or less and would be easier to move without taking on anything in return.
- Burying Brandon Manning or Ryan Spooner. Two recent acquisitions made by Peter Chiarelli that really handcuffed the team for the next year-and-a-half are Spooner and Manning. If both are waived and buried in the AHL (Spooner has already cleared and nobody would likely take Manning either), the Oilers would garner $2,050,000 in free cap room (or$1,025,000 per player). You can’t bury a player’s entire salary cap anymore, but that would still be pretty significant savings.
With Sekera and Klefbom activated, the Oilers are going to have a logjam on their blueline. Klefbom and Adam Larsson will return as the team’s top pair and Darnell Nurse and Kris Rusell will likely remain the second pair. That leaves Sekera, Manning, Petrovic, Benning, Kevin Gravel, and Caleb Jones (who is currently playing in the AHL) as remaining options for the rest of the blueline. The most likely play is to bury Manning and keep Jones down in the AHL, leaving Edmonton with Klefbom-Lasson, Nurse-Russell, Sekera-Benning, and Petrovic and Gravel as extras. The team would also need to free up quite a bit more cap room if that’s the route they take, though.
What say you, Nation? How should the Oilers go about fitting Sekera back on the team’s roster? Who stays and who goes?
The rules of this draft are simple, as always. After signing up (***FOR FREE!***) using your email, we’ll give you boxes of players and it will be up to you to select a name from each box until you’ve put together a super crew that can contend for a Nation Drafts championship. Seems easy, right? That’s because it IS easy.
- First Prize: $2500 pre-paid Visa
- Second Prize: $1500 pre-paid Visa
- Third Prize: $1000 pre-paid Visa
With that big ol’ hockey brain of yours, this here draft should be a breeze. Unless, of course, you’re scared of failure and the resulting ridicule… You’re not scared, are you? No, I didn’t think so. Sign up HERE.