After an up-and-down first season in Edmonton, Oilers defenseman Andrej Sekera has played a significant role in their turnaround this year, suggests Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal. Signed to a six year, $33MM contract in the summer of 2015, he was asked to carry too much of the load last season but with the additions of Adam Larsson and Kris Russell this past offseason, their ‘by-committee’ approach to the back end is working a lot better. While Sekera isn’t a prototypical number one defender, head coach Todd McLellan doesn’t hesitate to call him Edmonton’s best:
“He’s our No. 1. He’s playing his game in our system and when players do that they don’t over-extend themselves. He’s healthy and a year in and he understands what the organization is about. He has more experience with our team, not just experience in the league. He knows language and situations better. He’s playing to his strengths in our structure.”
On top of the extra familiarity with this being his second season with the team, Sekera’s offensive game has taken a step forward as of late. He has 12 points in his last 13 games and is more than halfway towards besting his 2015-16 point total (30).
While most top teams have a franchise blueliner, the Oilers are trying to buck the trend and succeed with a group that’s greater than the sum of its parts. With Edmonton sitting second in the division coming out of the holiday break, it’s safe to say that their blueline strategy is working so far.
More from the Pacific:
- In an effort to try to spark their offense, the Kings are reuniting a veteran trio that played a key role in their Stanley Cup victory back in 2014, notes Helene Elliott of the LA Times. Head coach Darryl Sutter has put Marian Gaborik alongside Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown in what could be called a line of underachievers. The trio has combined for just eight goals so far this season over 73 games, not the type of production Los Angeles was expecting from three players that cost over $20MM on the salary cap, accounting for more than half their total spending on forwards as their roster currently stands.
- Anaheim defenseman Clayton Stoner underwent surgery on December 21st and will miss four to six weeks, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle told reporters, including Elliott Teaford of the Southern California News Group (Twitter link). Curtis Zupke of the LA Times adds via Twitter that the procedure was performed around the abdominal area. Stoner has been out of the lineup since mid-November and has played in just 14 games this season, recording three points (1-2-3) while adding 35 hits. The 31 year old cleared waivers (in large part due to his $3.25MM cap hit) back in early October but remained with the big club.
- The Ducks announced that they have recalled defenseman Brandon Montour from their AHL affiliate in San Diego. He has been added because fellow blueliner Sami Vatanen has the flu and did not travel with the team to Calgary today. Montour has 21 points in 25 minor league games this season and leads the AHL in shots on goal with 113.