When a season goes as horribly as Edmonton’s season has, there are changes to be made. The Oilers will be no different between now and the start of the 2018-19 campaign. There could be a new GM, a new head coach, new assistant coaches, anything is possible. The only thing that is certain? There will be new players.
So, with player movement (and likely lots of it) a certainty, there will be speculation as to what that movement will be and should be. It started yesterday with an interesting tidbit from Oilers insider Bob Stauffer on his ‘Oilers Now’ radio show.
If the year was 2011, I’d jump at this possibility and never think twice about it. Now? I’d stay far away from Brent Seabrook. In fact, there isn’t a single player on the Oilers who I would part with for the aging defender who owns arguably the NHL’s worst contract.
Signed through the 2024-25 season, Seabrook will make $6,875,000 per season on the cap and has a no-movement clause in his contract at this time. It’s essentially the ultimate boat anchor contract, and there should be real incentive to taking it on if you are the Oilers. Trading Andrej Sekera for Seabrook, even with Chicago eating money, makes zero sense.
Say what you will about Sekera, but he has been one of Edmonton’s best defenders since he arrived as a free agent in July of 2015. He anchored a horrible group in 2015-16, and stabilized the Oilers’ second pairing a year ago. He was also tremendous in the Stanley Cup playoffs and was sorely missed in the first half of this season.
Not only is Sekera a well liked and respected veteran in the locker room, but he calms things down when on the ice and is arguably Edmonton’s top defender when it comes to transporting the puck. He’s also a powerplay option on a team sorely lacking them. He’s a very valuable player. Don’t let his injury cloud that fact.
Seabrook Isn’t His Old Self:
When people think Brent Seabrook, they think of the warrior who helped the Chicago Blackhawks to three Stanley Cup titles from 2010-2015. That fact is absolutely true. Along with Duncan Keith, Seabrook was a stalwart on Chicago’s backend and was, for my money, one of the best defenders in the NHL during Chicago’s heyday.
Now? Seabrook was a healthy scratch last night and it was completely on merit. He’s been passed by many defenders, and is arguably the sixth or seventh best option that the Hawks have at this point. That point is driven home even further when you realize that Chicago’s defensive group is one of the worst in the NHL.
Seabrook has just one goal on the season, going 1-10-11 in 41 contests. On top of that, he’s lost a step and struggles in a big way to keep up with the speed of a league that has transitioned to a younger, faster and more skilled game over the last few seasons.
In terms of usage, Seabrook’s time-on-ice has dropped and is down over two minutes than his career average. He’s still playing 20 minutes a night, 20:08, but that’s down from his career average of 22:22. That shows that his coach doesn’t really trust him as much anymore and that he simply can’t keep up as much at the age of 32.
In his last few games, Seabrook has played the following: 15:49 on 1/7 Vs. Edmonton, 15:52 on 1/5 V. Vegas, 17:03 on 1/3 @ New York, 18:08 on 12/31 @ Calgary. As you can see, it was a slow decline into last night’s healthy scratch, which was performance based according to the coaching staff.
The Oilers absolutely need to add a top-four right-shot defender to play behind (or even above) Adam Larsson. The thought is in the right place here, but Seabrook isn’t the guy Edmonton should be looking at. A 32 year-old aging veteran on the league’s worst contract isn’t something you go after. That point should be stressed even more when that player is a healthy scratch and playing less and less each night because of his poor play.
There are other options for Edmonton to look at in this spot, and there are other holes to fill before adding a right-shot defender. If the Oilers are serious about looking for a veteran in this spot, go ask Carolina about Justin Faulk. Hell, if Edmonton is serious about adding a player in the Seabrook mold, you’re better off waiting for Erik Gudbranson to hit free agency in July, he’d come a lot cheaper.
2011 Brent Seabrook? I couldn’t say yes fast enough. 2018 Brent Seabrook? Not a chance the Edmonton Oilers should even consider it, especially if the price is a better player in Andrej Sekera.