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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

WWYDW: Fitting Andrej Sekera under the salary cap

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? 

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  • Consultant

    Only hope is the Oilers start winning. This will make all players look better and then you can flip Manning and Spooner off for mid-round picks or anything… Talbot hopefully for a 3rd or 2nd rounder. Time to start unChia’ing this roster.

  • madjam

    I feel Sekara will not be able to return to be a decent NHL defenceman with his past injuries , and we will be stuck with that contract like we were with Ference .

  • ed from edmonton

    Unless Sekera can come all the way back to a top 4 guy he’s best left on Litr. Oil cannot afford a 5.5m 5/6/7 dman. How much discretion does the team have? I recall Lupul saying he was healthy enough to play, but the Buds saying not healthy enough to play at an NHL level and he stayed on LITR. If Sekera really wants to play in the NHL again he may have to waive his NMC and accept a longer time in the AHL. He would also have to clear waivers for this to work. Good chance that he would as who would want a 5.5M question mark

  • BR

    Trade Zack Kassian to a team looking to beef up their bottom six going into playoffs (he’s a good add with size speed and character, has the tools to be a difference maker, see what he did for us last playoff appearance).
    Toronto/Washington/Pittsburgh? Get a 4th – 3rd rounder or B prospect in return?

    Saves 1.95m

    No one is taking spooner so bury him which saves 1m’

    Bury Manning if you cant flip him saves 1m (slim chance we move him).

    Gravel OR Benning can maybe both fetch 5th round picks. (would likely have to retain on Benning however). Say a total saving of say 1m.

    Trade Talbot with maximum retention – someone takes him at 2m surely for a trial run. Even if the return for us is a bag of pucks. Call up Montoya = saving 1m.

    Send down Puljujarvi and bring up a plug like Malone etc

    Total Savings: 7m

    That gets us some breathing room but of course need to fill any holes left with callups etc.

    Reider is tradable too but I don’t know how we fill that spot without bringing a contract player back.

    Nuge – McD – Rattie
    Chiasson – Drai – Reider
    Lucic – Brodziak – Kharia
    Gambardella – Cave – Malone/?

    Klefbom – Larsson
    Nurse – Russell
    Sekera – Petrovic
    Gravel

    Talbot
    Montoya

    It’s ugly – but we want the youngins staying the AHL for the rest of the year and let the new GM revamp over the summer.

    • Big Nuggets

      I agree with the basic idea, sell what you can of the fringe players, develop all young guys in the AHL and challenge the remaining players to compete over the final stretch. This team has an outside chance at playoffs but next season appears to be a better bet. We have too many defensemen, many of which are fringe NHLers, might as well trade Benning if someone wants him. Get rid of Manning by any means necessary. Most important, personally, is don’t trade any of the players that we have leaned on this year unless of course it is for a very special brand of magic bean. Players we have leaned on, I’m sure everyone knows but lists are fun so, McD, Drai, Nuge, Klef, Nurse, Larsson. Wow thats a short list, am I missing someone? Also Chia and Russell, they are tradeable but we don’t need to beef up on draft picks, we need players that can play now so unless we can get a good player in return I would keep them. It gets complicated if Sekera can still play, in which case swapping Russell for a forward could be considered. If Sek can’t play anymore hopefully he will retire. I would also hold onto Khaira as he wouldn’t return much and he can be a beast at times. In my estimation the core of this team is decent. Defense is below average but there are promising youngsters that are percolating and if everyone can get healthy they are at least competitive. Of the forwards 3 are great and there is a couple middle six players. overall not great but McDavid is the best so, pretty good. everyone is calling for a scoring winger which would be nice but a quality 3rd line center would make a huge diffrrence as well. I was reading about how great filpula has been for long island and I think if the Oil had a 3rd line center they could lean on it would help a great deal. The middle six wingers would have good centers to play with so they wouldn’t need to shuffle everyone around constantly. Anyway, those are my thoughts on where we’re at and how to proceed.

  • Big Jacks Meat

    You know what ? I am tired of reading this garbage , nothing ever positive from this organization. Make moves , show your are trying. I am so tired of the cautious approach. Get some damn balls Oilers MANAGEMENT.

    Its so damn frustrating supporting this team, and not so the players I really could care less. I am L.A. Rams fan for 40 years . I will not be tuning in to my most favored team the Oilers on sunday. I will be watching pregame crap about Brady. sick of it. GO RAMS GO.

    Oh yes , the Oilers play. make me want to watch you.

    • Goaltender Interference

      Chiarelli made moves. How’d you like those apples?

      Much better would be someone who takes time and makes the moves that actually benefit the club…

  • Serious Gord

    Stauffer has intimated that sekera is not ready to play at an nhl level – presumably because he still hasn’t regained his speed/agility.

    There are 32 games left

    Assuming he gets a conditioning stint in the aHl the earliest he gets back on the big team will be at 25 games left to go.

    Let’s assume it’s 20.

    And that he will need 10 of those on the third pairing.

    It’s difficult to see him making much of a contribution to any playoff run.

    So no need to rush him. Especially as his salary then hits the cap.

  • OriginalPouzar

    As far as clearing cap for Sekera’s activiation.

    The Oilers are only over by apx $960 but that’s with a 21 person roster, Klef will make it 22.

    When Sekera is activated, they will have a 23 man roster (he is included on the 23 man roster while on the conditioning stint) but only 22 warm bodies.

    They will need to send someone down to get cap compliant

    I’m sure they would like to bring up another body so they aren’t 2 short and only carrying one extra, however then they’d need to clear apx $2M somehow. I think they might just waive and send Manning or Petrovic down which would clear $1,075,000 and get them cap compliant. Probably Petrovic, they seem to like Manning more.

    They’d only have one extra body and back to back games which is a bit precarious.

  • Consultant

    Get to work Keith.
    Manning has value to playoff bound teams, should be able to trade him for a cheaper forward contract. Maybe add a 3rd rounder and aim for a guy like Johnsson out of Toronto. Hope Keith is working the phones, we need to fix a few “Chiarelli’s”.

    • Big Nuggets

      I hope Manning has value, I have doubts though. Getting rid of Manning would have been my first order of business taking over after Chiarelli, then apologizing to Connor for my predecessors dumb trade.

  • Serious Gord

    The oil are in third-last place in the west. Seven teams are fighting for two wildcards.

    The Mendoza line is currently 84 lousy points. I think it almost a certainty that at least two of those seven will get hot and raise that bar up to 88 or more.

    And while I do think that the oil will perform better than they have of late -not least because Klefbom returns – I don’t see them going 20-12.

    It is almost axiomatic that Making moves to get into the playoffs requires some sacrifice of the future.

    It simply is too high a risk and shouldn’t be done.

  • Ted

    How about trade for someone who thinks McDavid is worth protecting … Or does McD also have to fight now too!!!! … The days of a policing have gone from this team especially when you can’t or won’t protect your best player! How is that even possible! … Calgary absolutely abused Connor in the last two meetings and got away with it scott free! … In the old days that would have never happened … I’m sure the fan base would love to see a little push back especially on home ice in front of the faithful! BUT …. Losing to Calgary on the scoreboard is one thing but allowing them to laugh in our faces on home ice is another, that does not sit well!! … I say this is not a team, so it’s no wonder they don’t show up to play night in and night out! …. A lot of new faces will be need to turn this ship around! BOOM

    • nijames

      You are living in the old days of the NHL, that protecting thing doesn’t fly anymore. Fighting no longer happens in this league. Calgary abuses Connor, Edmonton abuses Johnny and that’s how it works.

  • RJ

    I wonder what hold Klefbom has over Edmonton media.

    Klefbom has played 286 out of 460 possible games. He’s played exactly one full season which was 3 years ago. His best PPG was 38 points.

    Nurse is about 247/298 in terms of GP. He’s on pace for 39 points.

    But by all means, anoint Mr. Glass as the Oilers top D as usual.

    #Nurseisbetter

    • Big Nuggets

      I hope they both have room to grow still. Not sure who is better but one thing is for sure, the team is better with both of them in the line up. I’m excited to see how the team responds with Klef back in.

    • DoubleDIon

      Ridiculous. I’m a Flames fan. I smile with glee if I see Nurse out against our top line. Athletic tools of a 1st pairing d. Hockey sense of a 3rd pairing ahl defenseman. Klefbom is rock solid. He’s your second most valuable player as his absence should have shown you.

    • camdog

      Oilers can’t survive an injury to either. Klefbom best overall d-men, Nurse better offensively. Problem of course are Klefbom’s injuries. When the coaches were playing him 25 minutes a night I told everybody that the Oilers season was likely done when he gets hurt. Of course probably a fluke, but nevertheless, easily predictable based on his history.

  • McHitch

    Hearing:

    Lucic w/ $2M eaten + 2019 2nd + 2020 3rd to ARI for UFA Richard Panik. ARI then eats $2M & flips $2M Lucic to PHI for 2020 2nd?

    ARI gets two 2nds & a 3rd to eat $2Mx4yrs, EDM gets out of Lucic with just $2Mx4 in dead $, PHI gets a $2M Looch to be the new Broadstreet Bully.

  • DannyGallivan

    Clean House!

    Sekera injury history and $5.5 M for 3 yrs says no one will want him so he will be with us long term. Best we can hope for is he gets back to where he was.

    Talbot has not played well for 2 seasons is a UFA at the end of this season so he is gone anyway. $4.2M for a backup is too much. If he resigns for $2M maybe doable. Might be able to move him as a rental for post-season play for someone needing a backup.

    Spooner and Manning send to AHL – nobody will take them them.

    Petrovic is a UFA at the end of this season. Move him down or trade him. Like Talbot, effectively he is a rental now anyway as he won’t be back next year.

    Reider and Rattie are RFA’s at end of season and are gone.

    Potential trade bait are Kassian & Brodziak. Time for them to move on.

    Need cap room for Khaira, Chaisson, Pool Party and a winger who can score.

    • TKB2677

      What cap room do you think they need for Khaira and Puljujarvi? Khaira has 11 goals and 21 pts last year, he has 3 goals, 15 pts this year. I like Khaira a lot but he won’t even break 10 goals, maybe he gets 25 pts. He makes 675K right now, he shouldn’t command that much of a raise. I’d give him a 1 yr, bump him up to 800K if you have too. See what you have. Same with Puljujarvi. He’s got 4 goals, 9 pts. If he got to 10 goals and 20 pts, I’d be shocked. He makes 925K. I am a fan of his, I think there is a player there, potentially a real good one but I don’t see how his agent can argue he deserves much of a raise. Give him a 1 yr deal at the same, maybe slight raise but that’s it.

      • DannyGallivan

        K&P are not the meat of the problem. The cap is anticipated at $82M which gives an extra $2.5. We are up against it today and 1) we will have to pay Sekera and 2) K and P are do for a modest raise.

        The bigger issues are 1) Chaisson is due a material raise as a UFA. He is 17-7=24 in 42 games which puts him at a 34-14=48 clip. Good skater, hands, size (6’4″). Big increase from $650K or he walks. Currently 4th in team scoring with far fewer games and 2) we need more scoring so will have to pay up to bring anyone new on board.

      • ed from edmonton

        My understanding of the CBA LTIR rules is that a player can be placed on LTIR is the injury “prevents a player from fulfilling his duties as an NHL player”. That seems rather subjective but it would seem it mostly up to the team to make that call. That is the Lupul situation where Lupul thought he could play well enough but the Leafs did not. I suspect Sekera will not play another NHL game.

    • hagar

      Look what the old boys managed to build with a hand full of number one overall pics, and another handfull of top 10 picks.
      Its a pretty tough thought to imagine what they are going to be able to do with whats left.
      If a chef cant make a good meal with the best ingredients……

    • camdog

      On this roster he’s not expendable. Oilers don’t have anybody in their system ready to eat those minutes on the right side.

      If he’s traded it has to be for a defenceman that can play top 4 minutes and on the right side. You might end up taking more salary if you trade him…

  • teammate michael

    If its me. Me. I use my Nuclear Option. Trade Larrson. Take back draft picks. Trade him to a team like Boston. Or Buffalo. Frankly Chia was an idiot. He capped us out and put the cherry on top by trading 2 useful players for 2 anchors.