RALEIGH, NC - Oilers defenceman Andrej Sekera has three games under his belt during his current conditioning stint with the Bakersfield Condors and, as of Thursday morning, it looks as though the veteran blueliner is getting close to making his return to the NHL but is slated to play two more games at the AHL level before doing so.
Head Coach Ken Hitchcock and the Oilers staff have been keeping tabs on the d-man's progression as he continue to get his game up to speed following the rehabilitation process for a torn achilles tendon he suffered this past August.
Hitchcock says, by his estimation, it's not a question of Sekera being fully healthy or properly conditioned, it's more how the d-man is adjusting to physical contact and orienting himself as part of team unit on the ice again.
"I think health-wise he's fine, I think tempo-wise he's good. I think it's more the contact and the awareness on the ice and working with five other people or four other people on the ice that's still uncomfortable to him," said Coach Hitchcock following Oilers practice in Raleigh on Thursday. "But then we have to see if he can keep up to the pace if he comes up here. It's more the relationship with other people on the ice that he's more uncomfortable with. I don't think we're going to be able to see that until he gets up and plays here."
Sekera put up 23 TOI and was a +1 for the Condors on Wednesday night in a 4-1 victory over the Stockton Heat that saw the Oilers farm club extend their current winning streak to 13 games.
Bakersfield's next two games are on February 16 and 17, which means Sekera's Oilers return could come Tuesday, February 19 vs. Arizona at the earliest.