Sekera injury cripples Oilers, leaves defenceman’s future in doubt

Mark Spector speaks about the Edmonton Oilers losing Andrej Sekera after surgery and what the team will need to do in order to replace him.

Andrej Sekera is limping towards the finish line of his career. Literally.

After losing most of the 2017-18 season recuperating from anterior cruciate ligament surgery, a tear that happened in Round 2 of the 2017 playoffs, the Edmonton Oilers announced late Tuesday afternoon that Sekera had torn an Achilles tendon “in an off-season training session” and would be out indefinitely.

He had surgery to repair the tear on Tuesday, the team said. GM Peter Chiarelli could not be reached for comment.

The indefinite time frame on the injury infers that he could return this season, but even if he does, history tells us that this marks another lost season for the 32-year-old. As was the case with the ACL tear last season, Sekera may return after Christmas, but players traditionally require a full 12 months to regain form after an injury of this severity.

From a team perspective, the loss of a second-pairing, veteran defenceman is crippling. Chiarelli will no doubt test the market but the market is all but closed at this time of year.

All that is left in a picked-over unrestricted free agent market are names like Toby Enstrom, Alexei Emelin and Jason Garrison, while teams with tradable assets have been trying unsuccessfully to move those players since before the June draft. More likely, the Oilers will have to make up Sekera’s minutes from within.

Sekera often saw time atop the second power-play unit, and it should be noted that in his absence last season the Oilers power play floundered. Of course there were many reasons for that, but this season younger pros like Matthew Benning, the un-signed RFA Darnell Nurse, second-year pro Ethan Bear and perhaps even Evan Bouchard, drafted 10th overall by the Oilers in June, will all have to pitch in.

As for Sekera, with three seasons left on his deal at $5.5 million per, he’ll have to be able to prove he can pass a medical after two seasons now lost to very severe injuries. In a game that gets faster each and every season, 32-year-old defencemen able to survive back-to-back lost seasons are rare.

He played just 36 games last season, returning to the lineup on Dec. 21. But he had just eight assists (no goals) and was a minus-15, unable to find the pace of the game after ACL surgery.

He played seven games at the world championships for Slovakia however, and appeared as if he would be back up to speed and ready to contribute on the Oilers blue line this fall.

Now, who knows what lies ahead for Andrej Sekera?

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