For one SMALL SAMPLE SIZE ALERT month, Andrej Sekera topped all LA defensemen in both Corsi For % and Scoring Chances For %:
By my own Scoring Chances For calculations (my figures are stricter than War on Ice's and are based on these standards), the Trade Deadline acquisition put up an even more impressive 61.1 SCF% (55-35 SCF).
In particular, Sekera flourished with his most common partner, Brayden McNabb. They were actually LA's most dominant possession pairing (61.2 CF%) in 2014-15 (100+ TOI together). I know, SSS.
Also, his discipline is underrated. He took the fewest 5v5 penalties among Los Angeles defensemen who skated more than 1000+ 5v5 minutes last year:
|Name||Penalties Taken/60||Penalties Taken|
In this month-long audition, the Slovakian proved to be as smooth a puckmover as advertised and a competent defender to boot. There's every reason to believe that he can anchor LA's second pairing for years to come.
Losing a first-round pick and a top prospect is bad. Losing a first-round pick and a top prospect for essentially one month from a pending UFA is disastrous.
Dean Lombardi thought he was fortifying a legitimate Cup contender when he gambled away a hefty chunk of LA's future for Sekera. And while Los Angeles ultimately missed the postseason, we here at JftC still agree with DL's thinking.
So we have to squint a little to eyeball some cracks in Andrej's SMALL SAMPLE SIZE excellence.
Take another look at Sekera's 2012-15 HERO chart above. The one area where he hasn't distinguished himself is suppressing shots. Yet, he topped all NHL blueliners in 5v5 CA60 (39.1) during his 16 LA games (out of 185 defensemen who played 100+ 5v5 minutes). This, of course, contributed to his superb 60.1 CF% (5th in the league in that that stretch).
Here are some key 5v5 splits from Carolina to Los Angeles:
The Slovakian did receive softer zone starts as a King (-5.7 ZSO%Rel in Carolina, -0.1 in Los Angeles), and of course, he joined a much-better defensive team than his recent Hurricane and Sabre squads. But it's safe to not expect elite shot suppression from him in the future.
Andrej's counting stats did drop in 2014-15, from 44 points in 2013-14 to 23 (and just four in Los Angeles). But 2013-14 was a career year: He notched 15 power play points that season, including four goals—he's never had more than six PP points and one man advantage marker in any other campaign. He's more likely a 25-35 points blueliner.
Another not really a negative—Sekera isn't very strong, so he can be overpowered by bigger forwards. But this flaw is mostly mitigated by his smarts, shiftiness, and "compete level."
Suffering a season-ending injury certainly counts as a negative, but I'm going to stop reaching now.
All things considered, Sekera isn't a top-pairing defenseman, though he's on the verge of getting paid like one. But I'm confident that he's a championship-caliber second-pairing guy, unlike say, Alec Martinez.
Sekera feeds Anze Kopitar for a textbook shot-pass deflection & we've just won the first three games of a "make-or-break" five-game Eastern road trip & OF COURSE we're making the playoffs...
Andrej's season ended two games later, before I could post this ode to his smoothness:
The front office and Sekera have started talks on an extension. At this time, there seems to be little indication that the UFA-to-be will cut the against-the-cap Kings any sort of deal.
However, unlike his fellow countryman Marian Gaborik, this Slovakian didn't enjoy a successful postseason run to inflate his market value. So, perhaps his injury will prove to be a blessing in disguise for LA.
My guess? Sekera walks.
A lot of what Nick said about Justin Williams's status applies here. Sekera is arguably the best UFA defender on the market, but he's going to be a tough keep for a variety of reasons.
For what its worth, if I had to choose between Williams and Sekera, I'd choose the 28 over the 33-year-old.
But since it's just May, I can still fantasize about Slava Voynov terminated and Mike Richards paid in full by another organization, leaving LA space to sign re-sign both UFAs.
If Los Angeles manages to keep Andrej, I suggest they use him more on the penalty kill. He averaged just 0:48 SH TOI/game for the Kings; only young McNabb was used less in this situation. This, even though Sekera's 4v5 FA60 RelTM (Fenwick Against/60 Relative to Team) has been negative every season of his career. In fact, among the 107 defenders who played more than 700+ 4v5 minutes from 2007-14, he was 19th in 4v5 FA60 RelTM (-3.06).
Drew Doughty was 26th, Matt Greene 44th, and astoundingly, Robyn Regehr was 103rd.
A-. Sekera fit the second-pairing bill to a "sexy" in his brief Hollywood tour. The minus is for getting hurt.