Trevor Timmins has many great player evaluation moments with the Montreal Canadiens. He took P.K. Subban in the second round. Brendan Gallagher in the fifth round. But, assuming he had a major role in recommending Jiri Sekac, it may be his biggest coup yet.
You see, with any draft pick, there is still an opportunity cost. There is something that is spent, and yes, the value on the Subban and Gallagher picks is great, but when you spend nothing – which was what the Canadiens spent on Sekac – the opportunity is there for an even bigger haul.
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Sekac, through everything he has been through this season, is now a top-six forward as a rookie on a pretty good team. He’s only 22 years old, and is coming off of his first two-goal game against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Despite being a healthy scratch for seven straight games, he has never looked out of place in the National Hockey League. He has earned the trust of head coach Michel Therrien by playing on the penalty kill and power play at certain times.
Sekac has been trusted to play in rather complex roles either with Lars Eller or Tomas Plekanec and has fared well, and is barely a negative possession player and this is still his rookie year. He had experience in the KHL, but it is a great sign that this is his entry point.
You can compare Sekac to other undrafted phenoms to come into the NHL with high expectations such as Fabian Brunnstrom. Brunnstrom was coming out of Sweden and was highly coveted. He ended up signing with the Dallas Stars just before the 2008-09 season.
He actually scored a hat trick in his NHL debut and finished his first NHL season with 29 points (17 goals) in 55 games. He had 11 points (2 goals) in 44 games the next season. It would be the last NHL goal he scored. He did not play in the NHL the next season and the year after that played five games with the Detroit Red Wings before returning to Sweden.
I’m not saying that this is Sekac’s route, only that we should temper expectations, but even if Sekac does suffer through some rookie slump, he still is a top-six winger that the Canadiens got for free and are paying close to nothing on the salary cap. And the things he can bring to this team, including the way he carries the puck and his hockey instincts, make it so that he can still contribute if his scoring runs dry.
I think Sekac looks a lot like Lars Eller and Sekac may very well be underappreciated like his countryman Tomas Plekanec. He won’t be flashy like a Max Pacioretty or Alex Galchenyuk but I do think he has a chance to be the biggest find that the Canadiens made over the last few years.
If Sekac can stay a top-nine forward who can chip in on special teams and offensively, he will be a great success story for the Canadiens, and hopefully that means we can see his father celebrate a lot more goals in the future.
He’s already on his way.