Jiri Sekac (YIH-ree SEH-katch)
Birthdate: June 10, 1992 (Age 23)
Hometown: Kladno, Czech Republic
Jiri Sekac over 3 year span:
Overall good possession while playing 3rd line minutes pic.twitter.com/VhXaJHiIKw
— Blackhawks Breakdown (@HawksBreakdown) January 21, 2016
Thursday morning was a busy one for the Chicago Blackhawks Stan Bowman. With the team in Tampa Bay getting ready for a re-match with their Stanley Cup Finals opponent, Bowman was working the phones as he tried to improve a team that is currently riding a 12-game winning streak. The trade is a bit of a surprise for the Blackhawks given the win streak that they are looking to improve upon in Tampa, however, it is a notable upgrade in terms of player potential.
The trade was a straight up move between the Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks with Ryan Garbutt departing and Jiri Sekac heading to Chicago. The move is virtually cap neutral with Sekac at $925,000 and Garbutt at $900,000, and Sekac is in the final year of his existing contract which will give the Blackhawks some cap flexibility next season. Garbutt has one year remaining.
The Chicago Blackhawks have officially traded away the final piece in the Patrick Sharp trade. Garbutt was the last hold out as Trevor Daley had already been moved to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Rob Scuderi.
Garbutt started off well enough with the Blackhawks as coach Joel Quenneville favored his aggressive style over fan favorite Andrew Desjardins, but as the season wore on Garbutt’s numbers just weren’t where they needed to be and the energy he brought early on was no longer translating.
The Blackhawks went back to Desjardins and Garbutt found himself in the press box a few times before injuries facilitated his return to the lineup. However, his numbers didn’t improve when he returned.
Garbutt has appeared in 43 games for the Blackhawks and recorded two goals and four assists playing primarily on the fourth line. His grit and aggressive style should be a good fit for the Ducks, though they will certainly be hoping for a bit more production from Garbutt as well.
Sekac started his NHL career in Montreal but was sent to the Ducks last season in the trade that had Devante Smith-Pelly on the move to the Canadiens. Sekac just never really caught on to the Ducks system.
He played 22 games and recorded one goal and two assists. Sekac should be a solid upgrade for the Blackhawks in spite of his low production in Anaheim.
Sekac is considerably younger than Garbutt at 23, and carries a lot more potential in terms of his offensive capabilities. Playing an average of 12 plus minutes for the Ducks, Sekac may see his minutes decrease as he will possibly slot into the fourth line until he has had some time to adjust.
He has the potential to be a top-six forward as he has all the skills of a scoring winger. He is also solid on puck possession and has good playmaking abilities which could easily help him move up the lineup once he gets acclimated to coach Quenneville’s system.
Sekac has good puck handling skills and should evolve into a more consistent scoring threat, however, he needs to come in off the perimeter for some higher percentage shots. He put up some solid numbers in the KHL with HC Lev Praha where he played 47 games and scored 11 goals with 17 assists.
He has yet to adapt his game in North America to produce those kinds of numbers, but with the Blackhawks, he will have a lot of players that are ready and able to help him make that transition. The other benefit is that the Blackhawks do not need him to be that top-six type of forward right away. In addition, as a third or fourth line winger, he will get a chance to work on his defensive game and work towards getting more aggressive in the offensive zone.
Grand Theft Forward
I'm convinced Stan Bowman has blackmailed all other league GMs https://t.co/VxpzhnGONj
— Derek Zike (@DerekZike) January 21, 2016
For the second time in less than a month, Stan Bowman has managed to lift a player with a lot of potential without giving up much in return. He had already managed to pull off a similar heist in grabbing Richard Panik from Toronto for Jeremy Morin, and AHL player. Sure, Garbutt brought some grit to the Blackhawks fourth line, but Desjardins and Andrew Shaw can fill that role as well.
In both cases, the Blackhawks added undervalued players that can be immediately useful in their lineup. They have essentially sent one player to the AHL, and the other to a team that should be a good fit but is struggling to find consistent offense throughout their lineup.
Adding a scoring punch is a great move going forward and for Bowman, it is all about the future.