31-Year-Old Defenseman – Edmonton Oilers
Andrej Sekera Contract Information:
Signed a six-year, $33 million contract with the Oilers in July 2015.
Sekera (knee) is projected to return to the lineup at some point at the end of the month.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Sekera was tasked with heavy responsibility in his first season with the Oilers, and it didn’t suit him well, as he finished with a career-worst minus-15 rating as the anchor of an oft-injured blue line. Much of that poor rating had to do with defensive lapses around him, and the offseason trade for Adam Larsson should help alleviate some of the nightly pressure. While the Czech blueliner may see a slight drop in ice time as a result, Sekera’s career scoring rate suggests he’s still likely to finish around last year’s total of 30 points.
Sekera arrives in Edmonton bearing the weight of expectations. After all, he was anointed the Oilers’ No. 1 defender the day he inked his six-year deal in July. He’s not a traditional top defenseman, but the fireplug can skate well, log heavy minutes, and make great first passes from either side of the top pairing. And that’s just what this squad needs to improve its transition game. He’ll bring a steadying influence to a young back end, but it's anybody's guess where his scoring total may settle after he followed up a 44-point 2013-14 campaign with just 23 points last season.
With 44 points in 74 games, Sekera was in the midst of a career year before suffering an abdominal injury in early April that required season-ending surgery. Nonetheless, he finished with career bests in several categories, including goals (11), assists (33), blocked shots (127), hits (54) and power-play points (15). His transformation into an offensive force during his first season in Carolina was a surprise, considering he rarely gave glimpses of that during his previous six seasons in Buffalo. By all indications, Sekera figures to come into training camp fully healthy and resume his role on the Canes’ top defensive pairing alongside Justin Faulk. Still, we’d like to see another 40-plus point season from Sekera before telling you he belongs among the top defensemen in the league. The downside is that Sekera scored fewer than 20 points in five of the six seasons he was with the Sabres, and we’re not quite convinced he won’t revert to his previous form this upcoming season. Don’t bet the farm on him just yet.
Sekera, who was traded to Carolina by the Sabres in June, notched 12 points in 37 games for Buffalo last season. He now joins Joni Pitkanen and Justin Faulk as the only Carolina defensemen with any kind of puck-moving, offensive abilities. Sekera scored a career-high 29 points in 76 games for the Sabres three seasons ago, and he just might get close to those numbers again this season if presented with the right situation. He could prove to be a good sleeper pick in most fantasy formats this year.
Sekera saw his role scaled back last season with the arrival of Christian Ehrhoff and recorded just 13 points in 69 games. He also dealt with a case of pneumonia but is healthy heading into what should be a resurgent campaign this season. He's unlikely to equal the career-high 29 points he posted in 2010-11, but the Sabres need his steady two-way presence on the back end.
Sekera has a very solid 2010-11 season for the Sabres, finishing at plus-11 while adding three goals and 26 assists in 76 games. The new-look defense heading into 2011-12 raises questions as to Sekera's role on the team, especially on the power play. He'll likely still see time with the man advantage, just not as much as he had before, which should negatively impact those 26 assists.
Sekera suffered from multiple injury setbacks in 2009-10, but he should have a prominent role in 2010-11 in Buffalo, so long as he stays on the ice. He finished the year on his normal offensive pace, with four goals and seven assists in 49 games. A successful season for Sekera would be one where he plays in 70 or more games; and if he does that, he should hover around the 20-point mark.
After having a strong finish at the end of the 2007-08 season, there were high hopes for Sekera coming into the 2008-09 season. But instead of reaching up to all his hype, Sekera struggled leading the Sabres with a team worst minus-11 rating, which was in part due to a nagging lower body injury. Expect Sekera to do a lot better this season. With 19 points in his rookie year, he is still young and has the ability to do some damage on offense.
Sekera finished 2007-08 with eight points (2G, 6A) and a plus-5 rating in 37 games for the Sabres. However, that only tells part of the story. In March and April, he scored five points (three on the power play) and amassed a plus-10 rating in 16 games. Sekera looks ready for a top-four defenseman role, but Buffalo's offseason acquisitions will likely leave him on the third pairing this season.
Sekera is likely to spend 2007-08 in the AHL. He is currently eighth on Buffalo's organizational depth chart at defenseman. He leans towards the offensive end of the spectrum and is on target to win a full-time NHL role in 2008-09.
Sekera was initially projected as a minor leaguer in 2006-07, but after a solid training camp, he has a shot to land a spot on Buffalo's roster as the club's seventh or eighth defenseman.