My last piece touched on the lack of experience on the Sabres blue line. It was something that wasn’t addressed at the trade deadline, and I honestly believe it’s something that accounts for defensive brain farts like when Carolina was able to quickly tie the game after each Sabres goal last night.
Yes, I would be writing this even if the Sabres had won.
The interesting part of it, for me at least, is Andrej Sekera. He has really improved his game as of late, but he is still very inconsistent. He picked up two assists last night, increasing to 5 points in 3 games. At the same time, he had of plus/minus of zero last night as he was on the ice for the second tying goal and the OT winner by Carolina. So what exactly is Sekera going to become?
I want to point out right now that what becomes of Andrej Sekera is extremely, extremely important for the future of the Buffalo Sabres. His development or lack thereof, his roster spot or trade value, will be second in importance only to Tyler Myers’. The reason? He was touted as a dynamic, offensive, but responsible player in the AHL. He showed very little promise through his call-up stints to the majors. Sekera was a nasty -11 in 69 games in 2008-09 recording only 19 points.
He’s also played the 4th most games among the defense. With 216 regular season games played. That’s less than half of Shaone Morrisonn’s 467 games played. For reference, Steve Montador leads the D with 504 GP (Lydman had 720…wonder why our defense has been inconsistent and prone to breakdowns?). It’s taken Sekera this long to start playing like a real NHL defenseman, and he’s played 3 whole good games in a row. Excuse me if I’m not getting over-excited.
The issue is dependence. Consistency. Boring, easy, quiet hockey. Mike Robitaille once said that the less you hear a defenseman’s name, the better he’s playing. Having flashes of potential is a nice perk for a blue liner, but if it comes at the expense of defensive duties and proper positioning…well, your Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender may just have the worst year of his career. Whoops.
So Sekera can go one of two ways. With the proper guidance and mentoring, these latest offensive flashes show that he could become the next Brian Campbell. If he can learn to pair up his confidence going on the rush or pinching with knowing when to make the safe, easy, slow pass out of his own zone, he could be an All-Star. He really could. Without that teaching he can become the second coming of Dmitri Kalinin (I just got a nose bleed when I typed that).
The trick is he needs a silverback veteran to show him how to play the safe game, but somebody who will be able to handle it if Sekera takes a chance offensively. Andrej needs a kind of blue-line father figure who will teach him the delicacies of slowing down the game when the other team is attacking, but will also give the kid the nod to go on the rush. Brian Campbell had Teppo Numminen, a veteran who was paired with him and practically made him the All-Star he is today. Seriously, I really hope that Teppo gets a very expensive Christmas gift every year from that red haired wonder, because Brian Campbell earned that $8 million contract because of the Finn.
Sekera doesn’t have a Numminen. Sekera doesn’t have somebody on this team who has played anywhere close to 1,000 games, and he doesn’t have a partner who can teach him. He’s usually paired up with Tyler Myers, a younger, less experienced player. Sure, Myers is a prodigy, but he’s not what Sekera needs to become a great player himself.
Hopefully this is addressed in the off-season. I’m sure we’ll see the Kalinin side of Andrej in the next few games, and then his confidence is going to take a huge hit and who knows what’s going to happen. Right now if he has a bad game he might start kicking himself, and without a stabilizing veteran there to tell him to show him that it’s okay, he’ll find himself in the press box very quickly.
Tags: All Star Andrej Sekera Brian Campbell Buffalo Buffalo Sabres Carolina Hurricanes Darcy Regier Dmitri Kalinin Eastern Conference Fansided Free Agency Hockey Jordan Leopold Mike Robitaille NHL Northeast Division Offseason Overtime Sabres Sekera Shaone Morrisonn Stanley Cup Steve Montador Teppo Numminen Terry Pegula Toni Lydman Tyler Myers