The Edmonton Oilers continued their rapid makeover under new GM Peter Chiarelli, signing coveted UFA blueliner Andrej Sekera.
Boy oh boy, do the Edmonton Oilers and new GM Peter Chiarelli mean business.
In less than a week, we’ve seen the Oilers draft Connor McDavid and acquire defenseman Griffin Reinhart and goalie Cam Talbot. They jettisoned center Boyd Gordon for Lauri Korpikoski and inked pivot Mark Letestu. And now, Chiarelli’s latest big move: signing blueliner Andrej Sekera to a six-year, $33-million contract.
It’s big money, sure, paying Sekera $5.5 million per season, but the market dictated that cap hit. It’s no surprise to see Sekera earn that much. The message is clear, however: Chiarelli understood the Oilers’ bugaboo in recent seasons has been goaltending and defense, a.k.a. the positions that are supposed to keep pucks out of their net. Talbot has a chance to emerge as a true No. 1 goalie, assuming he wasn’t just smoke and mirrors behind a dominant New York Rangers blueline. The Oilers have two elite blueline prospects on the way in Reinhart and especially Darnell Nurse, who has a chance to make the club this season. They also acquired Eric Gryba from Ottawa last week, plus they’ve added Sekera to the mix.
Sekera, 29, is a two-way defenseman in the middle of his prime. He broke out for 11 goals and 44 points as a Carolina Hurricane in 2013-14. This season didn’t go as well for him, as he was injured after going to the Los Angeles Kings in a rental trade and the Kings missed the playoffs altogether. But he’s a steady performer who does a bit of everything and steps right in as the team’s best defenseman.
Are the Oilers starting to look like a playoff team? Not yet, but there’s no doubt Chiarelli has made his stamp quickly and drastically improved this team.