Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Sekera’s Return Brings a Cap Crunch

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:

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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.

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Jan 2, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Coyotes right wing Richard Panik (14) carries the puck as Edmonton Oilers defenseman Brandon Manning (26) and goaltender Mikko Koskinen (19) defend during the first period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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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.

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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
Alex Petrovic

*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.

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

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  • A-co

    What if they got rid of all of the OBC salaries and Burger Bob’s salaries????
    It wouldn’t help with this cap crunch BUT it sure would give me a warm feeling on this cold winter day….
    How this team is in cap trouble is beyond rational thought

  • Redbird62

    The CBA in 13.9 says it is the longer of 6 days or 3 games, so in this case it would be the 3 games that would be the limit. Also when reading 13.9, the team needs to make a pretty compelling case to get the extension so it is not automatic.

    • jesse says yep

      They could play the player safety angle, seeing as Sekera has missed so much hockey in the past year is he really able to keep up with the pace of play well enough to not endanger himself? Not that it will work for sure bjt in my experience once the safety card is played, in any line of work, people have a tendency to be a bit more cautious

  • Jon

    Nobody could have seen this problem coming. Not Chia, not Ken Holland, not Steve Yzerman – no one. Can’t blame the guy for picking up two D-men right before two of the Oilers D-men come off LTIR. I mean, how could he have known?

  • bwar

    And now every GM in the league has Edmonton over the barrel ready to take another pound of flesh because of Chiarelli. So we basically have a week to make a salary shedding trade and most of the salaries we want to shed are untradeable. Thanks, Chiarelli.

    • slats-west

      Go ask Vancouver how they are going to replace Alex Edler’s minutes? Every team will have issues eg Hamonic went down as well. At this time of year everyone competing wants Dman depth. The Oilers will get something of value if they play this correctly.

  • vetinari

    Moving a small contact only helps for this year (which may be enough to skate us through to the draft). We are locked into too many bad long term contracts which will also eat up most of our 2019-20 cap space as well. Ideally, shoot for the moon and try to move a big ticket dead contract like Lucic, Talbot or Manning but if you can’t, Benning and Rieder might at least get you a few picks to make up for the ones sent in the Manning and Petrovic trades. Seriously. Who was in charge of saying to Chiarelli, “are you sure you want to do that?” because our roster is a who’s who of deadweight contracts.

  • SylarHRG

    At what point do you consider Talbot a liability rather than an asset? I don’t see him returning to form with THIS team. We get into the playoffs, high pressure, and he lets in an early goal. Wouldn’t you rather try someone else?

    • Redbird62

      Leafs fans think that McDavid wants to leave Edmonton, but he signed for 8 years at a hefty discount to the cap max of $15 Mill per year. Matthews allegedly wanted almost the full cap max to sign for the Leafs for that length. And Marner is going to cost them as well.

      • McHitch

        Drai is a steal at 8.5. Both players on pace for 100 points over 82.

        Mathews numbers inflated playing with Marner, Tavarez and Reilly.

        Drais inflated playing with McDavid.

        Drai gave up 3 ufa years, Mathews is a ufa in 5 years. So happy we signed him up long term before this 100 point season.

    • That's My Point

      Draisaitl’s is a STEAL!!!
      Cracked 70 points twice and is now on pace for over 100 POINTS!
      Matthews hit 60 twice??
      Marner should get the SAME as Matthews based on points per year.

      • Vanoil

        Not as a 1LW … that is some serious money to ride shot gun. You don’t see Pitt handing down that sort of cash to one of Crosby’s wingers. Why they can consistently field a strong team.

      • Redbird62

        Draisaitl scored 50 goals and 137 points in the 191 games (0.72 ppg) he played before signing his big second contract. Auston Matthews has scored 90 goals and 178 points in his first 182 games (0.98 ppg) before signing his big contract. Matthews seems like an over pay at this point compared to McDavid, and the Leafs concern also has to be will he stay healthy. Draisailt’s contract is probably fair value. Pasternak, Gaudreau, Monahan and McKinnon are all better value for their team’s right now than Leon.

  • jesse says yep

    After coming back from a major knee injury, last season is a pretty bad example of how Sekera will play this time around. From everything I have read the recovery from the two injuries are quite different and there is a far better chance that Reggie will get back up to speed quicker this year.
    As for who to trade? Manning or Petrovic are the easy choices and I would prefer they wait until the summer of they are going to trade Benning. Talbot is the obvious if they can find a taker, like it or not, Koskinin is locked up and not getting traded so keeping Talbot for any longer than necessary is just delaying the inevitable. Ok insurance against an injury but if any team offers even a moderately fair deal they would have to take it would they not?

    • El Oilero

      you can trade Talbot for nothing if you had to. Any team with cap space will take him as a backup going into the playoffs. The only issue is the return. I would bundle a bad contract with him and give them away for next to nothing (dumping a bad contract is the payoff)

  • camdog

    When Sekera signed with Edmonton he was regarded as a guy who could play both sides. He played on the right side for a few weeks, but his game was Benning like, the drop off in play was significant. There is absoltely no reason to expect he can ever play on the right side in the NHL ever again.

    • El Oilero

      Sekera is great when healthy. The only issue is his age 1) natural decline and 2) proneness to injury. We have him for 3 more years. He has a retirement contract.

          • Redbird62

            The lack of team success under Katz’ ownership is a pretty clear indication of incompetence/bad decisions on the part of many, including Katz’ himself since the buck truly stops with him. Whatever potentially misplaced loyalty or faith he has in those who have been or are around him now that allows him to believe that they have the answers to the Oiler’s troubles, I can assure you he very much cares about winning as do all the people who work for him and I would bet they actually care more than you do. Caring by itself doesn’t get the job done though.

          • Redbird62

            I didn’t say they know about winning (as team executives) I said they care about winning. Big difference. I would think their problem would more likely be that their pride/egos have them believing that they can fix the problem and convincing Katz to let them keep trying rightly or wrongly.

  • Magicaleigh

    Waive both Manning and Petrovic and bring up Bear or Jones or someone and the cap works out.

    some combo of Sekera/Jones/Benning

  • El Oilero

    If we are going to be sellers at the deadline then let’s bundle some of the bad contracts with a player ASAP to make space. If we can’t sign Chiasson see if we can send him bundled with Manning and get that goon off the books.

    • BobbyCanuck

      My bad…should be “100o ways the OBC effed up the Oilers’

      Part 1: The guy that bought the team is an OBC fan boy
      Part 2: Hired Burger Bob
      Part 3: Hired Chia
      and so on….

    • CMG30

      I’ve been hard on Chirelli and deservedly so.

      That being said, he should have been fired 2 seasons ago. Someone in the organization left him in this role he clearly wasn’t fit for and signed off on all his moves up to and including the Koskinen deal days before he was (finally) removed. Once Chirelli’s incompetence was established, how much responsibility should fall on his head and how much should be directed up the chain to his enablers?

  • TKB2677

    I said it in a different thread but I see Sekera potentially coming back as not a good thing. I really doubt he will be overly effective given how much hockey he has missed.

  • fasteddy

    I don’t like the idea of dealing Kass….he has value as a forechecker, one of about 3 that will throw a hit, and can finish the odd chance. Be nice if hit a bit lower, but I think he brings more than many on the depth chart.

  • Vanhellian

    Can someone explain to me how TO can have Tavares, Nylander, Anderson, Matthews, Marleau, Kadri, Reilly, Muzzin, Gardiner yet WE are the ones in cap hell?

    • Flint

      Well, they will be almost certainly losing both Gardiner and Kapanen. And Marner now will likely command 9 million, so they’re in pretty deep as well.

      BUT, Marleau off the books soon, so if they can limit the damage next year… and Hainsey this year.

      The Leafs are already good… they’re gonna be good for a long time.

    • Redbird62

      It only works for this year, with so many still on entry level deals. For 2019/20 the Leafs already have ~$66 million committed to 14 players plus $5 million to Nathan Horton, who could be moved to LTIR (they haven’t had to use that yet). They still have to sign or replace 9 pending RFA’s and UFA’s currently on their roster including Marner. Even if they replace the other 8 of those with players who make the league minimum ($650,000 I believe this year), that would leave them at most $10 million to sign Marner if the cap rises $83 million. While several of those 8 that need to be replaced are only slightly above the league minimum, Gardiner makes $4 million and Hainsey makes $3 million. As well, Kapenan, whose entry level agreement is expiring has 30 points in 52 games this year and will expect a decent raise. Cap hell is likely around the corner, but they got Muzzin to make a run this year.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Leafs are headed straight for cap hell.
    They still have to pay their top scorer from last season.

    And I’d be shocked if they will have Nylander past the draft…..

    • TKB2677

      I actually agree with you. Matthews is going to make 11.634 mill next year which I’d say is fairish but personally, I don’t think is a discount. I think they made a mistake by signing Tavares. People complained about Leon’s contract but Leon and McDavid make 21 mill combined. Tavares and Matthews make 22.634 combined and the Oilers combo will out score them.

      They signed Nylander for just under 7 and I think he’s a good, complimentary player. I wouldn’t call him overpaid but he’s not cheap.

      Then there is Marner. Marner and Matthews have the same pts/game this season at 1.21. I don’t see Marner as a complimentary guy, he’s a driver and I think he’s close to as good as Matthews. I do give the edge in salary to a center just because. So if Matthews gets 11.634, I have to think Marner gets around 10. Eichel signed for 10 recently and I don’t think Eichel is much better if at all than Marner.

      They brought in Muzzin who will replace Gardiner who’s a UFA. The salary is the same but that means their defense is the same as in they haven’t improved it.

      They have several other key RFA’s to sign. So they are in trouble I think.

  • OriginalPouzar

    I think the magnitude of the cap implications are being over-stated. There are various easy ways to get compliant. Of course a trade of someone like Petrovic or Manning (or even Benning or Kassian) without taking back cap would get us there. Even without a trade, they can waive and assigned Petrovic or Manning and then assign Malone – they would have to run with a 22 man roster but that isn’t uncommon.

  • Leaky37

    How about buy out Reggie. Anyone who thinks he can come back to form after an achilles is dreaming. It took EK65 almost 2 years to get back to full form. His career is done and we should be done with him too.

  • toprightcorner

    I wouldn’t trade Reider. Sure he isn’t scoring, not many bottom 6 players are. As an RFA with no leverage to get much money if he isn’t qualified, you can probably sign hi. To a 1 yr at about $1.3 mill. If he just returned to his career averages, he can score 10 goals and 25 pts. Having that for $1.3 mill is better than the 5th round you get in a trade. If he still doesn’t provide offense next season,you can still trade him for peanuts.

    The odds are he returns to form a.d you have a super value contract.