Yesterday the Arizona Coyotes claimed forward Jiri Sekac off waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks, making him the second forward Arizona has acquired in this fashion from Chicago this year (Viktor Tikhonov).
Why? What does Sekac bring to the Coyotes besides a warm body? And why could Arizona promote from within if it needed to fill a roster spot following the Trade Deadline? Let's take a look at who Sekac is and what he offers Arizona.
Meet Jiri Sekac
A native of Kladno in the Czech Republic (which is also the hometown of numerous NHLers including Jaromir Jagr, Tomas Plekanec, and Ondrej Pavelec), Sekac played for the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League before he went undrafted. Afterwards, Sekac spent three seasons in the Czech Extraliga and the Kontinental Hockey League before the Montreal Canadiens signed him to a two year entry-level contract.
Sekac would play 50 games with Montreal in the 2014-15 season before he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks for Devante Smith-Pelly. Between Anaheim and Montreal, Sekac would play 69 regular season games and seven playoff games, scoring nine goals and 14 assists in that span.
This season, Sekac only played 22 games for the Ducks before he was traded in January to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Ryan Garbutt. He would dress just six times for Chicago before he was placed on waivers, which ultimately brought him to Arizona. This season, Sekac has a goal and three assists in 28 total games.
At 6' 2", 185 pounds, Jiri Sekac has pretty decent size for a forward. His career is still in its infancy, and his rookie season with Montreal and Anaheim suggests that Sekac can be a productive forward. But how productive? Early returns aren't great:
Sekac's production rates are not good at all; his median primary assists/points per 60 minute rates are NHL replacement level low. His Corsi For rate per 60 minutes of ice time is a little bit better, but still not particularly inspiring.
But what makes him stand out, and likely what Don Maloney sees in him, is his ability to suppress shots while playing defensively. His strong showing in Corsi Against and Corsi Percentage Relative to Teammates per 60 minutes of play suggest that he may not produce a lot of offense, but neither do his opponents when he's on the ice.
This skill set very strongly suggests "penalty kill" as the ideal deployment scheme for Sekac. Boyd Gordon's continued unavailability has stretched Arizona's shorthanded personnel thinner, but from the looks of these figures Sekac may be able to ease the strain a little bit.
Overall Sekac is not an inspiring addition, as most waiver pickups are. But he has some two-way skill, which both Maloney and Dave Tippett like, and he's young. He still has time to grow into his game and become an NHL regular. With Arizona almost completely out of the playoff picture, he will have a couple of months in a relatively pressure-free environment to prove he belongs in the league.