On Monday afternoon, the Edmonton Oilers announced that Andrej Sekera has been assigned to the Bakersfield Condors for a conditioning stint. The stint can last a maximum of three games but it can only go a maximum of six days. There’s also a chance his stay in California could be extended to five games, but that would require commissioner Gary Bettman’s approval. If that approval was given, it would extend his assignment until February 16th.
Since the Condors only play twice in the next six days, I would say it’s actually a possibility that they would get approval from Gary Bettman to extend his stay. When you consider Sekera’s age and the fact that he’s played just 36 games in roughly 18 months., the organization could make a strong case that he needs an extended conditioning stint.
The reason that the length of his conditioning stint is important is the fact that the Oilers have dipped into their LTIR money and need to clear up roughly $1.2 million in cap space.
I’m far from a ‘capologist’ but here is the best explanation I’ve seen as to why the Oilers need to clear out exactly $1.2 million in non-prorated cap space:
This situation coming off LTIR is different than the typical calculations of trying to get the team projected cap hit under the limit. Their constraint is annual AAV of the active roster, and right now that’s 1.2M in annual cap hit too high if Sekera is off LTIR. No prorating
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) February 5, 2019
The salary cap is confusing on a normal day and reaches a whole different level when a mid-season LTIR activation happens. So simply: the Oilers need to find $1.2 million in space over the next six days.
GET SOME MONEY
Simply assigning a player to the minors will not clear up enough cap space to solve the Oilers problem, they need to trade out a contract in the next six days. Here are some candidates for the Oilers to make a trade:
ALEX PETROVIC: He’s dressed in just six games since coming over to the Oilers on December 29th. He battled an injury shortly after being acquired and honestly, he just hasn’t really gotten comfortable in an Oilers jersey. He’s a pending UFA, so you might be able to find a team that will take him as an insurance policy heading into the playoffs.
MATT BENNING: I still have some confidence that Benning can overcome his horrendous 2018-19 campaign and carve out a solid NHL career and there might be a team willing to take a chance on a 24-year-old right shot defenseman with some offensive ability. He’s due $1.9 million for this year and next. Considering how many young d-men the team has in the minors, shedding Benning for a pick might be a smart play.
BRANDON MANNING: I haven’t hated Manning during his brief time in Edmonton, but he’s due $2.25 million this season and next. That’s just straight up too much money to pay for a third pairing guy. If a team will give you as much as a 7th round pick for him, you jump on it.
ZACK KASSIAN: The first of two forwards on my list, Kassian didn’t have a great start but he has been playing better over the last month or so. Earlier this season, the Oilers gave his agent permission to try to find a deal out of Edmonton and nothing came to fruition. As I said, he’s been playing better and you may be able to find a team who wants to add some toughness for a playoff run. He’s due $1.9 million this year and next. That cap space next season would be valuable.
TOBIAS RIEDER: He hasn’t scored in 38 games this season, yet I’ve heard that he may still have a little bit of trade value. He can skate really well, kill penalties, and he’s an RFA at the end of the season. Again, if someone offers you as much as a late round pick, you probably jump all over it.
The problem with trading a forward is that the Oilers only have thirteen of them on the current roster so if you deal one, you need to recall a replacement. That would make it really tight with the cap, unless they also put someone like Petrovic or Manning on waivers and are content with just carrying 22 players on their roster. I believe that math would work.
CAM TALBOT: Moving Talbot would give the team an abundance of cap space, but I’m not sure if they’re interested in moving on from him just yet. They’re still in the playoff race and would likely prefer to keep Talbot until they know for sure that they’re out of the race. One thing that could change that is if they can find a way to acquire a more cost-effective backup whether it’s in the same move, or in a different one. I think it’s unlikely that Talbot is sent out of town in the next six days, but you never know.
Before making a deal, the Oilers defensive depth chart is jammed up.
|Oscar Klefbom||Adam Larsson|
|Darnell Nurse||Kris Russell*|
|Kevin Gravel||Andrej Sekera|
|Brandon Manning||Matt Benning|
*Kris Russell has experience on the left side as well
The fact that Russell can play both sides means that the team can dangle any of their “spare parts” and just get the best return possible although I suspect we will see one of Benning or Petrovic moved.
As for Sekera coming back, I’m not sure what to expect from him. There’s a part of me that wants to believe he is 100% healthy and after a few weeks, we’ll see him return to the near top pairing form we saw in 2016-17. History would suggest otherwise.
|Season (ES Minutes)||CORSI FOR %||GOALS FOR %||SCORING CHANCE FOR %|
|2016-17 (1380 mins)||49.88%||51.58%||51.06%|
|2017-18 (506 mins)||49.49%||29.27%||46.15%|
Now that’s a very small snippet of numbers, but anyone who watched Sekera at the tail end of last season saw how much he struggled and how much of a hit his foot speed took.
Of course, there is a chance he is fully recovered and is ready to jump right back into things but realistically, he’s now gone through a second major leg injury and is another year older. I think expectations should be rather low when it comes to what he’ll bring to the lineup