With the NHL’s trade deadline coming up in less than a week, GM Marc Bergevin got an early start by acquiring winger Devante Smith-Pelly from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward Jiri Sekac.
On the surface, the move is a mild surprise. Sekac chose Montreal over several other teams in last year’s free agent bidding for him and his offensive ceiling is a bit higher than Smith-Pelly’s. But at the same time, Sekac never seemed to mesh with coach Therrien. Sekac would be a healthy scratch for games at a time for no particular reason. His offense suffered at times but his work ethic remained strong and he flashed his offensive ability at times. The Anaheim Ducks get an intriguing offensive talent in this deal in their bid to find more talented wingers.
On the Montreal side of things, they get the 22-year-old Smith-Pelly, a 6′ 0″ 220 LBS (according to NHL.com) winger who likes to hit and has a healthy dose of grit. Clearly Bergevin wanted to strengthen the bottom six in time for the playoffs as Montreal’s current bottom six is not particularly big or gritty. Smith-Pelly and Sekac have very similar stats with 17 and 16 respectively so far this season. Smith-Pelly is a former second round pick of the Ducks and his youth and physical style will be a welcome addition to an already young Habs team. His two-way ability will be appreciated on a team that likes to think defence first with a coach who demands defensive awareness at all times.
A standard hockey deal
It was a standard hockey trade as both players have another year left on their deals. Anaheim gets a slick winger full of potential in Sekac while Montreal gets a powerful winger who likes to hit in Smith-Pelly. It was a deal no one saw coming and it’s unfortunate that Sekac never got the proper chance to flourish in Montreal but Smith-Pelly brings a different skill set to the table, one that could prove to be very useful in the playoffs. With both players being so young and with different skill sets, it won’t be easy to tell right off the bat who wins this trade, but it appears both teams got what they wanted in this deal and only time will tell which player will deliver more to their new team.