Not too long ago, TSN hockey analyst Bob McKenzie mentioned in his tweet that he believes the Edmonton Oilers will add another experienced defenseman.
Because of Sekera injury/uncertainty, I do believe EDM will add an experienced defenceman: https://t.co/hwiaCuMPBd
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) September 6, 2017
In another interview, Edmonton Oilers’ head coach Todd McLellan said:
Sekera won’t participate in anything on the ice until well into the season. The time frame goes from early November to January, it’s that broad.
He went on further to describe that Sekera “plays 20 minutes a night in all situations [and] is a veteran in the prime of his career.”
The description truly exemplifies what Sekera means to the Edmonton Oilers’ blueline.
Taking it for what it’s worth, it is quite possible that the Edmonton Oilers are in the market to add a veteran defenseman to their lineup for the upcoming NHL season.
For one, the Oilers still have around $8 million of cap space left to improve their roster. If they are able to bring someone in who can play in their top-four, they have a better chance to secure a playoff spot before Andrej Sekera returns and can contribute at a high level.
Secondly, if we look at Edmonton current depth chart on defense, the projected line-up looks to be something like this:
Oscar Klefbom – Adam Larsson
Kris Russell – Matt Benning
Darnell Nurse – Eric Gryba
Andrej Sekera (IR)
Although Matt Benning has proved that he might be ready to step into a second pairing role, general manager Peter Chiarelli probably wants a little extra assurance on the backend to start off the season.
There are obviously many avenues for the Edmonton Oilers to explore. Let’s take a look at a few possible scenarios that could happen before the season starts.
Trade with the Vegas Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights have an abundance of NHL caliber defenseman on their roster.
In fact, they have as many as 10 right now, and realistically there is no way to have every one of them on the roster to start the season.
If we take a look at the Golden Knights’ depth chart, a lot of the blue-liners can be had for the right price.
Although, it is less likely that they will trade their younger defenders in Shea Theodore, Griffin Reinhart, Nate Schmidt, Jon Merrill and Colin Miller because of their potential to develop. Other names like Clayton Stoner, Derek Engelland, Jason Garrison and Luca Sbisa may be available.
From the Oilers’ standpoint, perhaps a name like Garrison may draw some interest.
He is a little older at 32-years-old but is still a mobile defender with a heavy shot from the point. Garrison fits the bill quite well as a “stop-gap-defender” that fills the second-pairing role until Sekera returns.
Garrison is currently in the final year of his contract, and there is a good possibility that he won’t re-sign with Vegas next summer. They are a team that is several years away from winning.
It is unsure what the Golden Knights asking price is for Garrison, but I would imagine it won’t be overly high, considering that they have an overabundance of blueliners and Garrison can walk away for nothing a year from now.
At a $4.6 million cap-hit for only one more year, the price range is doable for the Oilers and should be considered a move that helps solidify their defensive depth early on in the season.
Free Agent Market
Another route the Oilers could take is to explore the free-agent market.
Right now, the market is not overly appealing but there might be a few names the Oilers could bring in at a reasonable price. Or perhaps even at a discount, as we get closer to the season.
Some of these free agents include:
– Dennis Wideman
– Zbynek Michalek
– Fedor Tyutin
– Roman Polak
– Jakub Kindl
Although these names aren’t overly intriguing, they can still fill a role on the Oilers’ defense.
For example, bringing in a player like Dennis Wideman, Zbynek Michalek or Roman Polak (if healthy) would be a nice fit in the bottom pairing or possibly the second-pairing role for a few months.
Adding one of these players should give Edmonton the insurance they need to shelter Matt Benning’s minutes if he is not ready to be a second-pairing guy.
This option might work out better for the Oilers, as they have the cap space to pull it off and don’t have to lose any assets through a trade.
Stay put for the time being
Finally, the Oilers can simply stay put and see how things play out after training camp.
Perhaps, there may be a few surprises at training camp this season, and maybe a prospect like Ethan Bear, Ziyat Paigin, Dillon Simpson or William Lagesson can earn a spot on the Oilers’ roster.
Or maybe even an older player like Mark Fayne can resurge his NHL career and serve as a temporary second or third pairing defender for a few months to start the season.
Granted that no other injuries occur, this may be the best option for the Oilers.
It gives them an opportunity to see if players like Darnell Nurse and Matt Benning are ready to play a bigger role and if bringing help from outside is necessary.
At the same time, they don’t lose any assets or cap space early in the season and will have the bargaining power to make a big splash at the trade deadline next year.
What do you think the Oilers should do? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to vote in the poll as well.
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