The Edmonton Oilers have sent defenseman Andrej Sekera to the AHL on a conditioning assignment, the last step before activating him from long-term injured reserve. The Oilers, who have been pushed up to the salary cap ceiling all season, don’t actually have room to activate Sekera at the moment, meaning they’ll have to make a transaction of some sort to open up enough space. The defenseman can stay in the minor leagues for up to three games or six days, unless the team applies for an extension—though the end of a conditioning stint doesn’t necessarily immediately result in the player being activated.
Sekera, 32, played just 36 games in 2017-18 and has yet to suit up for the Oilers this season. The smooth skating defenseman was a big part of the Edmonton blue line in his first two years with the team, but now is almost entirely an unknown. Sekera never really got back to his expected level of play last season, and without seeing him on the ice there’s no way to tell whether or not he can help them this year. The Oilers are starved for effective puck-moving defensemen—especially given the injury to Oscar Klefbom—but Sekera’s $5.5MM gives him a high level to perform up to.
Moving out more than $1.23MM in cap space is also easier said than done for the Oilers. The team is already only carrying 22 players on the roster to get to that number, meaning they can’t just bury a few more for the time being. Instead there will likely have to be a trade of some sort for the team, and it’s unclear who that will be. The Oilers only recently acquired Alex Petrovic and Brandon Manning, and have apparently not closed the door on a Cam Talbot extension. All of that makes it tougher to find a quick answer, meaning interim GM Keith Gretzky has his work cut out for him over the next few days.