The Oilers Rig

Out of the Forest: Jiří Sekáč

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Meet Jiri Sekac.

Fresh out of Europe. He may well be this year’s flashy, random European Free Agent playing hop-along to the NHL.

He’s 21 years old (22 in 4 days, June 10th). He plays LW/C. He’s 6’2″ 174. He’s Czech.

And, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, apparently he’s ready and willing to sign a nice bonus-filled ELC with an NHL team, of which more than a dozen firm offers have been tendered.

Here’s his agent tweeting about him:

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(Click to embiggen photos)

Here’s a write up on him (and other European free agents available this off-season) by Bill Meltzer. He writes,

Sekac, who hails from the same hometown as Jaromir Jagr and Jakub Voracek, has played in North America before. He briefly passed through the OHL before spending a season-plus in the USHL. Unselected in the NHL draft, signed to play in the KHL. He emerged slowly but steadily over the next few seasons.

One of main knocks on Sekac is that he is an unorthodox-looking skater. Although he is not a physical player and could stand to be a little harder on the puck, he has shown a greatly improved “compete level” from the time when he a bust in Peterborough. Sekac is a stronger and more confident player than he was then. He has also developed his two-way game.

Sekac is still young enough to be in an upward development cycle. He does not project as a top-six forward in the NHL but could find a role if he continues to develop and is willing to spend time in the AHL and work his way up from there.

If we look at his player card we see that he did try to make a go of it in the CHL (he played 8 games with the Peterborough Petes before being cut from the team in 2009-10).

He also spent the better part of two season in the USHL (a top development league in the USA) with the Youngstown Phantoms. In 2009-10 he tallied an unimpressive 11 points in 38 games. In 2010-11 he had a much better season, scoring 45 points in 58 games (18 goals).

Since the 2011-12 season, Sekac has been playing in his homeland, the Czech Republic, alternately with teams in the Czech League or the KHL.

This past season, he played for HC Lev Praha of the KHL. His boxcars were good: 47 11-17-28 (.60 PPG). He averaged 13:52 time on ice and 1.7 shots on goal per game (all situations).

If we run his numbers through the KHL NHL equivalencies (x .65) we get 82 13-19-32 (.39 PPG), which is a reasonable number for a found money signing (for reference, the three top forward prospects for this year’s draft have NHLE’s of 43 (Reinhart), 40 (Draisaitl) and 39 (Bennett) points over an 82 game season).

(Side bar: for more on NHL equivalencies read here, and here.)

Here he is scoring his first KHL playoff goal from this April:

So… Are the Oilers Interested?

I have no idea. But, it’s hard to imagine that they aren’t. Since taking over as GM, Craig MacTavish has been active in pursuit of undrafted free agent talent. Last year he made a big splash by landing KHL defenseman Anton Belov. He also hired Bob Green to act as an amateur free agent scout.

This year already the Oilers have signed a ton of undrafted free agents to NHL (Jordan Osterle) or AHL contracts (Mitch Holmberg, the Jones twins and others).

It stands to reason that the Oilers, who suffer from a serious lack of forward depth beyond the crack team of first round picks are interested in Sekac. I’d be surprised if the Oilers weren’t one of the teams who put in an offer to Sekac and his agent.

So… there’s something to ponder over the coming days Oilers fans. A new toy… perhaps.

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