It has been quite some time since the Edmonton Oilers were a major player in the free agent market. That all changed on Wednesday morning. Peter Chiarelli decided to go big game hunting and came away with defenceman Andrej Sekera for his troubles. While it didn’t come cheaply, a six-year deal that will see the veteran rearguard earn $33 million, it was the sort of move this organization desperately needed to make.
Sekera done to EDM. six years, $5.5M AAV and a no-move clause.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 1, 2015
This Qualifies As A Bold Move
The biggest issue most Oilers fans had with former general manager Craig MacTavish was his inability to keep his word. While he came in talking a good game, MacT was unable to deliver on the highly publicized “bold moves” he promised. To his credit, the roster was given a major facelift during his tenure, but an impact player was never brought on board to help the “process” move along.
While Chiarelli said little about his plan of attack upon being handed the keys to the car by Bob Nicholson, the former Boston Bruins GM has clearly made his intentions known since last Friday’s NHL Entry Draft. Over the last six days, Edmonton has not only added Sekera and Connor McDavid to their lineup but also Eric Gryba, Lauri Korpikoski, Griffin Reinhart, Cam Talbot and Mark Letestu. The time for change was long overdue and the Ottawa native has delivered it.
[Related Article: Peter Chiarelli’s To-Do- List]
At 29, Sekera is still in the prime years of his career and arguably the exact type of blueliner this organization needed to add to its roster. While he may not be as “sexy” of a name to the casual hockey fan, the former third-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres was one of the better available free agents. There is no question his $5.5 million cap hit was a steep price to pay, but quality puck-moving defencemen don’t exactly grow on trees and they tend to cost a pretty penny on the open market.
A Sekera – Fayne Pairing?
At first glance, one would think Sekera would ultimately find himself in a tough minutes pairing with Mark Fayne during his first year in Oilers silks but that decision will ultimately be left up to Todd McLellan to make. While a second pairing of Oscar Klefbom and Justin Schultz may not be an ideal setup, the latter has played his best hockey when skating alongside the big Swedish rearguard. Which would leave Andrew Ference, Gryba, Darnell Nurse, Reinhart and possibly Nikita Nikitin battling for a spot on the third pairing.
Now nobody will confuse this blueline with the one the Calgary Flames will likely be rolling out on a nightly basis in 2015-16 but it is certainly a step in the right direction. Ultimately, that is all this upcoming season should be about for Peter Chiarelli and the Edmonton Oilers. One more year to assess where you are as an organization, before making those last few moves to get this group over that final hurdle and back into legitimate playoff contention.
Rob Soria is the Author of Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Next Great One. He has chronicled the Orange and Blue since creating his Oil Drop blog in 2011 and has also had his writings featured over at HometownHockey.ca and Vavel USA, where he has covered the NHL, MLB and ATP Tour. Rob was born, raised and still resides in Edmonton, Alberta and can be reached via twitter @Oil_Drop.