Andrej Sekera Has Been Great and Will Be Missed
The newly-acquired defenseman will be, uh, "out."
When Andrej Sekera was acquired around the trade deadline, I put subdued but still positive expectations on his shoulders.
His play since the trade has far exceeded reasonable hope.
In 16 games since joining the Kings, Sekera has posted a 60.1% Corsi during 5v5 play. He's done this playing largely with Brayden McNabb; that duo has put together a 61.2% Corsi in 124 minutes together. That figure represents a significant boost for McNabb, as he has posted a (still healthy) 55.6% Corsi with other teammates.
In a far-too-small sample size to draw significant conclusions from, Sekera has significantly elevated the possession numbers of basically all his Kings teammates. While he has received pretty soft zone starts as a King, the results are simply staggering.
His Corsi Rel% since joining the Kings is an excellent 7.6, which leads the Kings by far. The next best King in this metric is Anze Kopitar at 4.9.
Again, I have to stress that these numbers occur in a sample that's too small to draw real conclusions from, but there is no question that he has been simply outstanding since joining the Kings. It's not just a numbers thing, either. It's very easy to see what he excels at. He is both a good skater and passer, and a smart player that doesn't seem to let puck pressure get to him. He makes heady plays that advance the puck. Though he's far from an offensive dynamo, he's a very effective puck-moving defenseman. On top of that, he doesn't seem to be lost in his own end either. Darryl Sutter appeared to be gaining faith in the mobile defender as well, as Sekera's time-on-ice has generally increased over time since coming to Los Angeles.
Though the points haven't really come for him yet, it certainly doesn't feel hopeless when the puck winds up on his stick. He keeps the cycle moving and makes intelligent pinches to help the team keep play going. He also picked up (a much more respectable) 4 points in the 11 games leading into his injury. This followed a 5-game point drought to begin his stint with the team.
The loss of Sekera will be mitigated a bit by the return of Brayden McNabb, who has been an increasingly useful player throughout the season. However, Sutter does not have the faith in McNabb that he has in either Sekera or, worse yet, Robyn Regehr.
In fact, with Sekera and McNabb both healthy, there was some slight hope that maybe Darryl Sutter would see the light and scratch Regehr. With Sekera out, there is no one left to push Regehr out of the lineup. Instead, Regehr will likely see his already-misappropriated TOI increase. I don't need to beat this dead horse any further. You know why Regehr is bad at hockey by now.
News on the injury-front has been cryptic at best. After initially suggesting he'd be able to learn more yesterday (March 31st), he now suggests that he'll know more, errr, eventually. This is expected, after all. Sports teams are notoriously tight-lipped with injury information at all times, but particularly after the calendar progresses from winter into spring. Andrej Sekera will be "out" for a currently undetermined amount of time and will be missed. This, of course, does not crater the Kings' playoff hopes, but it certainly makes a treacherous road a bit more dangerous.
Early indications are that Alec Martinez will slot back in on his off-side with Robyn Regehr while Brayden McNabb suits up and plays with Matt Greene.
What we do know about Sekera's injury isn't particularly encouraging. He suffered the injury after a player fell on his leg, which typically would suggest a break, sprain or full-blown tear. It wouldn't be suggested that a player return from any of those injuries before the end of the regular season, if that is indeed the case.